“This Pete-e is the love of my life and also my best friend. Having this ceremony is really a public sanctioning of our relationship together. It’s not legal recognition, but it’s as close as we can get right this minute. And, of course, if that comes, that will be the frosting on the cake. But at least we’ll have the cake.”
– Jane Abbott Lighty, left, speaking of Pete-e Petersen at Seattle First Baptist Church following their wedding.
Seattle First Baptist Church on Capitol Hill has been performing same-sex weddings, also known as “covenant ceremonies”, since the mid 1980’s.
In 1996, the federal Defense of Marriage Act defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. This prevents same-sex couples from enjoying the same benefits married heterosexual couples do, including family health insurance and the transfer of Social Security benefits upon the death of one partner, as well as taxation, inheritance and hospital visitation privileges.
The Washington State Supreme Court is expected to decide soon on marriage equality for same-sex couples. If the court legalizes same-sex marriages, churches still would not be required to perform them. But gay couples who marry in civil ceremonies would be recognized by the state.
Massachusetts is the only state that legally allows gay marriages; it passed the law in 2004. Canada also allows it, as does Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Featured in local filmmaker Drew Emery’s documentary “Inlaws & Outlaws”, Jane Abbott Lighty, 70, and Pete-e Petersen, 78, are also known for their active participation in the Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus. Romantic partners for 28 years, they decided not to wait for the Supreme Court ruling.
Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen hold hands during their wedding reception. Says the coordinating pastor, the Rev. Stephen Jones, “Marriage is a commitment between romantic lovers. It is also a commitment between cherished friends.”
“This Pete-e is the love of my life and also my best friend. Having this ceremony is really a public sanctioning of our relationship together. It’s not legal recognition, but it’s as close as we can get right this minute. And, of course, if that comes, that will be the frosting on the cake. But at least we’ll have the cake,” says Jane Abbott Lighty, left, hugging Pete-e Petersen at Seattle First Baptist Church on Capitol Hill on Oct. 29.
Said Pastor Jones, during his opening greeting, “You gave serious thought to postponing this wedding until the Supreme Court of Washington state grants marriage equality to all couples. You finally decided that the romantic bond between you far exceeds any legal authority the state could offer, and that marriage isn’t a possession of the church or state. Marriage is your business, your concern and your decision.
“It’s a way of celebrating who we are and what we are and the fact that we have a wonderful circle of people in our lives who are there to support us and share those feelings,” says Jane Lighty as she and Pete-e Petersen leave Seattle First Baptist Church on Capitol Hill.
Heather Andersen, center, and Leslie Christian were given the wedding bouquets of Jane and Pete-e in the hopes that they would be the next couple to be wed. Both are plaintiffs in the Washington State Supreme Court case dealing with marriage equality laws for same-sex couples, expected to be decided shortly.
THE WEDDING OF JANE LIGHTY AND PETE-E PETERSEN
Saturday, October 29, 2005, 11:00 AM
Dr. Stephen D. Jones, officiating
Seattle First Baptist Church
When you made your first promise to each other, in 1977, little could you realize where this would lead your lives together. You met in January of 1977, and by March you were committed to each other for life. That was 28 years ago, and here we stand today, partly because of the inequality that same sex couples must endure, but mostly because you feel deeply that you have waited long enough and that the right time has come for you to publicly enter into the vows of marriage.
The church has done so much to cause judgment and hurt against persons who are attracted to their own gender, and I hope today we offer life, healing, and hope to the two of you, as well as many others.
The Bible teaches us to love and respect our bodies, and the bodies of others. And it teaches us that commitment and sexual affection are complementary.
Jesus himself never mentions or condemns homosexuality. That should be a great comfort and source of inspiration to all of us gathered here today, because we know that he certainly would have encountered it in the Gentile Temples scattered around first century Palestine. Jesus expressed great compassion and acceptance toward two prominent and excluded sexual minorities of his culture. He never shunned another human being. He urged us to be accepting of one another and not to be so anxious to take the speck out of our sister’s eye that we overlook the log obstructing our own vision.
We stand here today to affirm that whenever two persons discover love and trust and affection, and are willing to make a pledge of fidelity and commitment to each another, we will gather as a community of faith and surround them with our support. For this congregation at Seattle First Baptist Church, and this gathering of families, friends and loved ones, we offer you our unconditional support. We know that we are strengthening marriage today as we stand here.
I speak on your wedding day of the ebb and flow of love because of all the years you have shared together, your lives together surely model the two movements of love, the love that brings you together and the love that offers you space to be yourselves. One is a movement to close the gaps between you, to give yourselves wholly and without reserve, one to the other. The other movement is a movement to protect your individuality, to give you both your own spaces to develop and express yourselves as individuals.
Healthy love is never smothering, it never consumes, it never crowds, it never overwhelms. On the other hand, it empowers, it frees, it encourages, and it protects the space necessary for growth and personal expression.
Love is a commitment of one person to another. It is the statement or stance which says, “I will be there for you, no matter what. When it is inconvenient, I will be there. When I don’t feel like it, I will be there. When I’m hurt or angry, I will be there. Even when I’m disappointed, I will be there.” Romantic Love is a commitment of our whole selves, pledged to another.
Surely God is saying to you on your wedding day, “Behold, JANE AND PETE-E you are my chosen ones, holy and beloved. May my peace rule in your hearts and my love dwell in your lives from this time forth and forever more. Amen.”
Published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer