Georgia Voice columnist Melissa Carter

Melissa Carter: Planning 101 gay weddings

It’s almost here: the much-anticipated ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage. The decision will come in the next few weeks, since June is the last month of the court’s term. Here’s a brief reminder of what is at stake.

The case being considered is Obergefell v. Hodges, a lawsuit from Ohio suing for the recognition of same-sex marriage validly established in other jurisdictions. SCOTUS has consolidated it with three other similar same-sex marriage cases from Tennessee, Michigan, and Kentucky. The questions posed by this case are:

Does the U.S. Constitution require states to perform same-sex marriages?

Does the Constitution require states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states?

According to the HRC, the Supreme Court could rule one of the following ways:

If the Supreme Court sides with marriage equality on the first question, then question 2 is irrelevant, and marriage equality comes to all 50 states.

If the Court rules narrowly, with a “no” on question 1 but a “yes” on question 2, some states will maintain marriage equality. Some states will again be in play to advance access to marriage equality. All legally married couples will be recognized in every state.

If the Court rules “no” on question 1 and “no” on question 2, then same-sex couples living in the 14 states without marriage equality and no state recognition of their out-of-state marriages are left without marriage rights. Some states will keep marriage equality rights, but some states will again be in play.

With many expecting a positive outcome for the gay community, celebrity chef Art Smith is taking advantage of the timing with his event, 101 Gay Weddings, here in Atlanta. The former personal chef to Oprah is hosting the event on Sunday, June 28, at 1 p.m. at the Intercontinental Buckhead.

As the title implies, Chef Smith wants 101 gay couples to wed that day, in an exciting and elegant manner. It’s a free event for couples, with each couple allowed two guests each. Top sponsors include Coca-Cola and Intercontinental Hotels Group, with 14 of the best chefs of the South cooking for the reception. They include Atlanta’s own Anne Quatrano, as well as New Orleans’ John Besh and John Currence. Duff Goldman of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes will create the wedding cake, and DJ Tracy Young will be spinning during the party. There will also be appearances by Major League Baseball star Billy Bean and new music artist RaJoch.

I offered to be an officiant at the ceremony, since I now have the ability to legally perform weddings through the Universal Life Church. But Chef Smith has a much bigger, yet-to-be-named celebrity in mind to officiate the mass wedding. My ego is OK with that.

One of the promoters of the event, Food/Lifestyle Expert and TV Host Chadwick Boyd, says the greatest need right now is couples.

“Couples can get married for the first time, or they can renew their vows,” says Boyd.

The first 101 couples to tweet #101GayWeddings to @ChefArtSmith will be invited to participate, or you can email him directly at

With such a lavish celebration, what if SCOTUS doesn’t rule in our favor?

“Should the Supreme Court not make it legal,” explains Boyd, “this will be a peaceful protest for #LovelyForAll. Yet, we expect this to be historic in many ways and be the first gay mass wedding in the South and the nation.”

Are you someone who is apprehensive about the upcoming ruling, and hesitant about signing up for such an event? A positive sign that things may go our way is the Fulton County Board of Commissioners vote last week to ask its county courts to be prepared for the Supreme Court’s ruling. The board voted unanimously to ask the county’s probate court to come up with a list of judges countywide who are willing to officiate marriages.

I’m optimistic, and have said for years it’s simply a matter of time for bans on same-sex marriage go away. It’s also an opportunity to change the traditional wedding rhyme:

Something old, something new.
Oh, and as of this summer, you can be gay too.