LA Daily News Editorial: Gay wedding float is as mainstream America as the Rose Parade itself

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California has been a leader in the campaign for marriage equality. Same-sex marriage is fully legal here.

So when the AIDS Healthcare Foundation came along and said it planned to feature a wedding ceremony between two men who have been partners for a decade, the Tournament of Roses quietly said, “Why not?”

But the decision — entirely correct, in this board’s opinion — has set off a mini-controversy nationwide about what is appropriate for the august event. It’s time for people to put this debate to rest. Gay marriage is no longer unusual; normalized in 18 states, it’s as mainstream as the Rose Parade itself.


APphoto_AHF's Same-sex Rose Parade Wedding: "Love is the Best Pr

These successes for gay marriage proponents may seem as if they have happened almost overnight. And in the great historical sweep of things, the change has been swift. Actual, legal marriage not only wasn’t envisioned as possible by, say, the early homosexual activism that came out of the era of the Stonewall Riot in Manhattan in 1969; it simply wasn’t something that was conceivable either by mainstream society or by gay couples themselves.

Less than half a century later it is happening in state after state. A Gallup poll last summer found that a fully 54 percent of Americans supported marriage between same-sex couples. The new institution is suddenly more popular than practically any politician in the country.

The activists and lawyers who have been leading the movement will note that these changes haven’t come easily. For 20 years, they have been filing lawsuits — winning some, losing many. But with the disappearance of the ban on acknowledging homosexuality in the military, and the often-conservative current Supreme Court’s landmark overturning of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act that banned same-sex marriage, the tide has turned. Utah, home of the Mormon Church, is the latest state to see its same-sex marriage law overturned.


The Tournament of Roses is a California institution, not a Heartland America one. But the volunteers who run the parade are arguably as resistant to change, as purely traditional, as absolutely in the middle of the mainstream as any organization in the nation. New Orleans’ Mardi Gras — with its drunken revelry, its funky krewes, its bacchanalian nudity — the Rose Parade is not.

Every float entry is vetted within an inch of its life by the Tournament’s traditionalists. If the design and any human activity on the massive floral displays rolling along the 5.5-mile parade route Wednesday have passed muster by Tournament officials, they have the Middle America stamp of approval.

Marriages on floats between heterosexual couples have become a commonplace in the Rose Parade. After the novelty of the vows exchanged between Danny Leclair, 45, and Aubrey Loots, 42, on New Year’s Day wears off, perhaps gay marriages on floats will become a commonplace, too.

Some aspects of contemporary society accepted by too many don’t belong in the Rose Parade and will likely never get there. The tawdry sex and appalling violence that permeate the entertainment industry has no place in Pasadena’s annual celebration. But the wedding between Leclair and Loots is a love match. When their nuptials are held in front of a floral wedding cake of white coconut chips, white roses and dendrobium orchids, the normalizing of same-sex marriage in America will be that much more complete.

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