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Occupy Love: A Same-Sex Wedding at Occupy DC


Marina Brown and Laura Potter stand in McPherson Square, where Occupy DC called home for many months, during their wedding ceremony on Saturday.

CREDIT: Campus Progress / Emily Crockett

Under a statue of General James McPherson and cloudy skies that occasionally broke into sun, two long-time members of the Occupy DC encampment made their 15-year partnership official on Saturday.

Marina Brown and Laura Potter were the first couple (and, inherently, the first same-sex couple) to be married at Occupy DC.

They tied the knot in front of about 30 people at McPherson Square, which occupiers called home for more than four months before being evicted in February, and which still houses some tents as symbolic protest.

The Occupy movement has seen numerous weddings in encampments across the country since the protests began in the fall. Zuccotti Park hosted the movement’s first gay wedding in November.

Brown and Potter had been married through a Pagan handfasting ritual for 11 years, so they viewed this ceremony as a renewal of their vows.

“Marina and I were considering for the longest time, and then we decided, yeah, let’s do it,” Brown said. “Get the paperwork, make it legal.”

The ceremony embraced several religious traditions. Brown and Potter wore headscarves to show solidarity with other faiths, were blessed by leaders of both their Pagan and Unitarian congregations, and the ceremony was officiated by Brian Merritt, a Presbyterian minister.

Though it violates his ordinance to do so, Merritt was an advocate for gay marriage before Washington, DC legalized it and has now officiated at eight same-sex weddings, including this one.

“This one is extremely special for me because I’ve been down here so much,” Merritt said. “It’s the first one [I’ve done] where the couple hasn’t cried. Most of the couples have been waiting so long that it’s such a hugely emotional day. These people have suffered for their relationship to survive 8, 10, 20 years.”

Attendees cheered and blew bubbles when the couple was pronounced wife and wife, and they enjoyed a reception complete with pizzas and Girl Scout cookies after the ceremony ended.

Brown and Potter came to the encampment the day it began and set up their own tent shortly thereafter, returning to their home in Virginia twice a week.  

While their marriage is not recognized in Virginia, the couple plans to travel together and wants the legal protection wherever it is afforded in case something happens to one of them.

In the short future, they’re hoping to go to Iceland, where Laura plans to scuba-dive and Marina, an “ultrarunner,” will run the equivalent of 40 marathons to circle the whole island.

Emily Crockett is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @emilycrockett.

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