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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES in MA » MASSACHUSETTS (all topics) » Love Does Not Discriminate
The Happy Couple     BY: Brad Fowler
Love Does Not Discriminate

Part 4 - A Day to Remember

By Mark B. Oliver | October 08, 2010

Previous Article in this Series

ONE continues its exploration over the issues around same-sex marriage and what it means for the individuals concerned.

Following Darla’s dramatic proposal over Thanksgiving dinner in 2008, she and Betsy decided to marry in Provincetown, a place Darla describes as “beautiful, vibrant and culturally rich.” While the town and its “inspiring landscape” was an undisputed draw, the fact that marriage there was legal elevated the ceremony from a symbolic to a legal one.

Walking Along the Beach on their Wedding Day
BY & COPYRIGHT: Brad Fowler

With planning underway, Betsy also wanted to propose to Darla, a fact that she shared with her fiancée.

“I thought this was a wonderful idea,” Darla confides. “Proposing to Betsy had been the most wonderful moment of my life, and I wanted Betsy to experience that in the same way I had.” So, with Darla not knowing when the proposal from Betsy might come, the couple made wedding arrangements and continued with their everyday lives.

“Once a month we hosted a women’s art group in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania,” explains Betsy. “We usually had somewhere between 15 and 20 women, and the definition of art we used was pretty broad, with everyone from bakers to writers attending. A week before Christmas, 2008, the monthly meeting assembled at our home, as usual. A poet friend, J. C. Todd, had suggested ahead of time that the group write centos, which are poems made up of other poets’ lines. She hid poems all over our house and asked us to choose poems we liked and write centos from them. Then the whole group made a cento together, reading lines aloud in a circle. It had been arranged that I would read the last line — I no longer remember what it was, but I immediately asked Darla after reading it, ‘will you marry me?’”

Just before the vital moment, Darla’s mother, Barbara Ann, was secretly called and the “phone was put on speakerphone, so mother and daughter heard the proposal together.”

“It was beautiful,” says Darla, “to receive the proposal from the woman I love in front of my community and, unbeknownst to me at the time, my mother.”

Darla is Jewish and Betsy, Pagan, and they asked Rabbi Judy Epstein to marry them.

“She is a fine woman,” says Darla, “who counseled us and allowed us to change traditional liturgy to conform to our feminist and humanist leanings and took a genuine interest in us as a couple. She led a gorgeous ceremony!”

The couple were married at The Masthead, beneath a traditional chuppah, which their greater community helped them design and build. The chuppah (a cloth or sheet supported by four poles) symbolizes that the home newlyweds will build together is not a roof and four walls but rather the people within it.

The poles were held upright during the ceremony by Darla’s parents, Charles and Barbara Ann, and representing Betsy’s family (as both her parents have passed) were Florence Goff and Jean Lacovara, close friends of the couple. Darla’s brother, Darren, helped support the roof. To emphasize the importance of their friends and family in Darla and Betsy’s lives, the poles were decorated with personal messages and artwork, including contributions made by people who were unable to attend.

BY & COPYRIGHT: Brad Fowler

Darla’s mother generously financed the whole affair, including the reception, which was held on the beach a few miles from the wedding, in Truro. The casual beach setting added to the party atmosphere, and with Ptown Parties supplying a clambake buffet, the party went on until well into the night.

Looking back, why was it so important for them to be married?

“It was important for me to declare my love in a personal and traditional setting, and it was also a political statement to a certain extent. I wanted to be counted, to be Betsy’s wife, not just her partner, and I believe we have earned the right to use these words,” Darla states firmly.

And how easy has it been in practice to use these words?

Betsy hesitates before answering. “It doesn’t slip easily off my tongue, and I always consider the setting and sometimes temper what I say. On occasion, I will refer to Darla as my wife even though this may shock some people. I hope that it will make them pause before making a judgment or assumption.”

Darla smiles. “You know, we had children at our wedding, and for some it was the first they had been to. What greater message of tolerance, understanding and compassion can there be than that their first experience of a couple getting married is a vibrant, inclusive, joyful gay wedding?”

In the next installment in this series, ONE will examine the economic benefits the Commonwealth and local businesses have enjoyed since the advent of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

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