Same-sex marriage foe to perform commitment ceremony

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Philadelphia Mayor John Street may not be Public Enemy No. 1 with the city’s gay community for much longer.

64-year-old Street, in the past a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, will preside over the commitment ceremony of longtime colleague Micah Mahjoubian and partner Ryan Bunch this weekend.

Mahjoubian, the city’s deputy secretary of external affairs, told the Philadelpia Inquirer recently that he popped the question, so to speak, during brunch last fall.

“I told him Ryan and I got engaged to be married, and I’d like him to consider whether he would officiate our ceremony,” he said of Street, who strongly opposed legislation to provide benefits to same-sex partners of city employees while he was City Council president in the 1990s.

According to the Associated Press, Street agreed to the gig because “Micah is my friend. He has been in my campaign and has been in my administration for eight years.

“I’ve come to respect him as a person, and if this is something he would like for me to do, then I’d like to do it for him.”

Although the ceremony will resemble in nearly every way a “traditional” wedding, 125 guests are expected to witness the groom and groom, wearing matching tuxedos, say their vows, exchange wedding rings and then head off to a reception.

It will have no legal standing, since Pennsylvania prohibits gay marriage.

“It’s not marriage. It’s not real marriage. They can’t be married… It’s not a religious ceremony,” Street told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I mean, it’s not really marriage.”

It is real to Bunch and Mahjoubian, however, who told AP:

“To me, this is like a ‘Nixon goes to China’ thing. He came in as a mayor that a lot of people in our community were sceptical of, and yet he is going out able to accomplish more than anyone thought.”

Bryan Ochalla © 2007; All Rights Reserved.