A wedding in a hospital room

In this deeply moving article, New York Times reporter Anemona Hartocollis tells the story of Richard Townsend, 77 and Jacques Beaumont, 86, partners of 39 years, who were married this week in the hospital room in which they are both being treated for terminal illnesses.

Mr. Beaumont, the more religious of the two, asked his pastor, the Rev. Glenn B. Chalmers, and former pastor, the Rev. Elizabeth Maxwell, of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea, to officiate. Mr. Beaumont admires the church for its soup kitchen. But priests in the Episcopal Diocese of New York cannot legally perform same-sex marriages, so they called in a colleague, the Rev. John E. Denaro, of the diocese of Long Island, where it is allowed, to join them and to sign the forms. “I’m John Doe — or Jane Doe,” Father Denaro said jokingly, getting into the cloak-and-dagger spirit.

As hospital workers in different-colored smocks crammed into the lounge, Mr. Jones, the former colleague of Mr. Beaumont at Cimade, conjured up a cobblestoned Paris street by playing a Charles Trenet song, “I Wish You Love,” on his melodica, which sounds like a cross between an accordion and a harmonica. Then, at Mr. Townsend’s request, he played “Your Song” — “with apologies to Elton John.” Another colleague, Muriel Glasgow, invoked Edith Piaf with her rendition of “Ne me quitte pas” (“Don’t Leave Me”).

Do yourself a favor and read the whole story, and as penance for your sins, think only charitable thoughts about the religious leaders across this country who work so hard to keep ceremonies like this one from happening.

Category : The Lead

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4 Comments
  1. Thanks for the link to the beautiful story, Jim. Who would want to deny anyone this kind of happiness? Well, a good many folks, more’s the pity.

    June Butler

  2. tgflux

    So tremendously moving. Mazel Tov to Richard and Jacques! :-)..

    JC Fisher

  3. David C. Wacaster+

    I am really disappointed in Bishop Sisk and I have several issues with his prohibition – not the least of which is that it conflates two separate institutions: CIVIL marriage and sacred marriage. There is absolutely no reason why Episcopal priests in NY should not be able to sign a civil marriage certificate.

    This is the sort of non-leadership that gets one remembered and not in a good way.

    David+

  4. Gary Gilbert

    Mark Sisk’s reasoning seems to be that priests signing a civil marriage license would give the impression that same-sex couples are just like sex-discordant couples. Because the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have not figured out what to do with same-sex couples, he will not allow priests in the Diocese of New York to officiate at the civil weddings of same-sex couples. The embrace of equality by City Hall might jeopardize the separate-and-unequal institution of religious marriage.

    Sisk seems to lead from behind. He should at least have made an exception for this same-sex couple who don’t have much time left.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

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