Sara Tracey reports on the wedding plans of a gay New York couple, Joseph Eppink and Ralph Panelli, as they move quickly toward a mid-September ceremony. (Eppink is Music Director and Organist at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Albany.)
Both men are religious — Eppink is Episcopalian, Panelli is Roman Catholic — so a church wedding was necessary for them.
The couple booked the First Lutheran Church in Albany, [a friend’s] place of worship. They said they would have loved to have the ceremony in Eppink’s church, but Bishop William Love of the Albany Episcopal Diocese has barred priests from participating in same-sex marriage ceremonies. The congregation supports the couple. The Sunday after the law was passed, “We had a coffee hour in front of the church, and there was this huge cheer from people. The church, the parish, they’re all very excited,” Eppink said.
Though marriages for same-sex couples officially began July 24, Eppink and Panelli chose to wait for more significant date: Sept. 17, the date Panelli’s brother was born and died, at age 17, and the date Eppink’s father died. The couple’s commitment ceremony was Sept. 18. They plan to honor family members and friends who have died with a candle-lit “ledge of remembrance” at the reception.