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Same-sex couples receive ministers' blessings at Lyric Theatre event

Pat Ritz, who lost her partner of 40 years, Joan Wyzenbeek, last December, cut a "Love Wins" cake as she chatted with the Rev. Kent Gilbert of Berea's Union Church after an interfaith blessing of same-sex couples at the Lyric Theatre on Sunday.
Pat Ritz, who lost her partner of 40 years, Joan Wyzenbeek, last December, cut a "Love Wins" cake as she chatted with the Rev. Kent Gilbert of Berea's Union Church after an interfaith blessing of same-sex couples at the Lyric Theatre on Sunday. Herald-Leader

They came by twos.

Most held hands.

Others wept as they stepped forward Sunday to receive blessings and hugs from nine ministers representing different faiths at the blessing of same-sex couples held at Lexington's Lyric Theatre.

Doug Smith and husband Glenn Blind were among the first of more than two dozen couples who received blessings Sunday at the Bluegrass Rainbow Faith Communities event.

The two were married in 2013 in New York City. They opted not to have a church wedding because they felt the 2013 ceremony was enough.

But Sunday's interfaith event was significant.

"It was nice to have a blessing," said Smith at a reception after the service. "We really appreciate that."

Since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 26 legalizing gay marriage in all states, the Rev. Marsha Moors-Charles of Bluegrass United Church of Christ has heard a lot of pushback from conservative religious groups decrying the judgment based on religious views.

Moors-Charles wanted to show same-sex couples that not all faith groups feel that way.

"I thought we needed a diverse representation of the clergy to give a united front," Moors-Charles said.

Clergy from St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Woodland Christian Church, Ahava Center for Spiritual Living, St. Mychal the Martyr Orthodox Catholic Church and the Temple Adath Israel participated in Sunday's blessing of couples.

The hourlong service focused on tolerance and acceptance.

Louise Tallen of the Ahava Center for Spiritual Living reminded those at the event that God's love trumps all.

"Love is always the answer, no matter what the question," Tallen said.

Tears dotted Pat Ritz's face as she walked up to receive her blessing not long after Smith and Blind.

She received her blessing alone. But she was thinking of her partner, Joan Wyzenbeek, who died in December, before the Supreme Court ruling.

The two would have been together 40 years on July 4.

Wyzenbeek, who was an ordained minister and an outspoken activist, would have wanted to participate, Ritz said.

"She would have loved this so much," Ritz said.

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