LANSING – Robert Lewis, 26, of Lansing and Patrick Lynn, 24, of Grand Rapids are the next generation of LBGT partners. They met on a gay dating Web site two years ago last February. They chatted by instant messenger, email and phone for a couple of weeks and finally decided to meet.
Lewis said at that point, he knew Lynn was the one. “The first night we were together, I couldn’t help but keep him around,” Lewis said, his voice sounding dreamy and distant. “The way he looks and the way he talks and everything – I didn’t want it to end.”
And on Saturday, June 30, at about 3 p.m., Lewis and Lynn will join other couples on the steps of the Capitol to be part of a mass commitment ceremony. The event is sponsored by Michigan Pride and Michigan Equality, and the service will be performed by Rev. Kent Lederer of Unity of Greater Lansing.
So why is it being called a commitment ceremony when the state has been so embroiled in the same-sex marriage debate? Lederer said the answer is simple: “A rose by any other name is still a rose.”
Lederer, who is openly gay, said he is excited about the event. He also said he hopes the couples come away more committed than ever.
“I hope it will encourage ’em, support ’em, uplift ’em,” he said. “I hope it confirms that love is the most important thing above all else. That’s what I hope.”
Lederer has performed such ceremonies in Chicago and Savannah.
And while he knows some might disagree with a Christian minister performing commitment ceremonies, he said it’s important to his own spiritual truths.
“You know, spiritually, we are all one, and why should any segment of society be denied the rights of any other part of society?” he said.
Said Lewis, “It means we are definitely committed and want to be together until death do us part. We both understand the marriage stuff is up in the air right now. It still means a lot to us. We are exchanging rings.”
Some might be tempted to call the event a political statement, but not Lewis.
“We just wanted to get committed, and the state won’t do the regular traditional ceremony, but we gotta do it one way or another,” he said pointing out the restrictions on marrying in other states.
Lederer said there is a political element, but it is deeply rooted in the spiritual. “We have a saying in Unity, a concept: ‘As within, so without,'” he said. “It means if we are one in spirit, then we should be one in all ways.”
He added it includes the political/civil discourse as well as the spiritual discourse.
But in the end, he reminds people of what Jesus had to say on the matter: “Nothing. Not one word,” he said with a gentle laugh. “Love is love.”
The event is open to any couple interested in participating. Couples can pre-register by calling Michigan Equality at 517-484-5120, or they can register on the day of the event at any point before the ceremony. The organizations will take the couple’s picture with a digital photo and send them a copy of a commitment ceremony certificate and the photo.