I like to plan ahead. I know same-sex marriage is still not legal in Georgia, but I want to be ready when it is. No, I’m not talking about any wedding plans for me, but I do want to be a part of yours.
Thirty-seven states now allow same-sex marriage. According to Freedom to Marry, Georgia is among only two states that still have gay marriage bans in place with no court ruling to lift them; a federal judge in Nebraska struck down its ban on Monday. But the Supreme Court agreed in January to review challenges to marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Their expected ruling in favor of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage should strike a blow to other conservative states, sending Georgia’s ban crashing down like a domino.
This long war to obtain legalized same-sex marriage has placed many churches on the opposing side, with many religious bodies littering the front lines and shooting Bible verses at us like weapons. So now that we will soon be able to legally get married in a church, shouldn’t there be someone standing with you who personally understands what it took to get to that altar? That’s why I decided to find out how to legally perform these ceremonies myself.
I first reached out to a gay pastor I know, asking his advice on the best course of action. He explained that most churches require you to be on their pastoral staffs, and that requires training and study. I was not interested in investing time and energy into that, so I posted my intentions online. That’s when another friend explained that he applied online and now officiates ceremonies for straight couples.
I always associated online marriage-officiant certification with impromptu ceremonies in Las Vegas, like getting married by Elvis. I’ve even heard radio guys I’ve worked with claim they could marry couples after going online, but I never thought it was legitimate. But since it seemed the only option to achieve my goal, I searched the internet and found the Universal Life Church.
It was as simple as giving them my contact information. Once I did that, the Universal Life Church said I was ordained for life and offered me my paperwork for a fee.
According to their website, as a member of the Universal Life Church I am granted the ability to perform marriages, funerals, baptisms, ceremonial rites, and last rites. I can start my own church, whether it’s online or one I physically build. I can also use the title Reverend, Minister, Healer, or Educator. Probably the most intriguing superpower I have newly obtained from the ULC is the ability to absolve others of their sins.
I think I’ll start off small and just do weddings for same-sex couples. I also don’t plan to force others to begin using my new monikers, but I gladly paid for my packet. I
asked a lawyer how to make this legal, and she said to file my documents with Fulton County upon receiving them. That should complete the required steps for me to officiate your wedding. I
t seems I’m in good company by joining the ULC’s people of the cloth. Celebrities who have signed up to be ordained include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Richard Branson, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Wendy Williams, Sir Ian McKellen, and Bryan Cranston, just to name a few.
I have been outspoken on the radio for years about how it’s just a matter of time before we can legally marry in the state of Georgia. I want to continue to be part of that movement after our dreams come to fruition, and I am ready to stand before any congregation and join LGBT couples in legal matrimony. I’ll just be sure to leave my Elvis costume at home.
Melissa Carter is one of the hosts on the Morning Show on B98.5 FM. In addition, she is a writer for Huffington Post. She is recognized as one of the first out radio personalities in Atlanta and one of the few in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter