The Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church and its Welcoming Congregation Ministry are celebrating Marriage Equality Day on Saturday by performing mini weddings in the sanctuary from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Reverend Pat Ray discussed the details of the event, as well as the mission of the Welcoming Congregation Ministry, on Wednesday's First Coast Connect.
A national survey, conducted by leading online legal service Avvo, concluded 48 percent of Americans support same-sex marriages — a 5 percent increase from the results of a 2015 survey.
Ray said the percentage is probably higher than 50 percent but some people simply might not have responded to the question.
“Almost anybody you talk to has someone in their family that is gay and they want those people to be happy,” she said. “We are all entitles to experience love as we see it, and marriage is a part of that.”
In 2015, Duval County Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell put a stop to courthouse weddings, saying her staff didn’t feel comfortable officiating same-sex marriages.
“I called the courthouse during that time and said if it’s a matter of your own beliefs getting in the way of this, we are certainly happy to provide ministers who will come down and do those weddings, but I was told they had already disbanded the chapel and it was a done deal,” Ray said.
Ray also added she is pleased to be part of a congregation that is offering short, free-of-charge weddings in observance of Marriage Equality Day.
The Welcoming Congregation Ministry, which launched in 1990, grew out of an understanding that widespread prejudices about the LGBT population existed within Unitarian Universalism.
The Welcoming Congregation Ministry participates in activities around Jacksonville to support the LGBT community and has a strong relationship with JASMYN, a non-profit service organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
The Welcoming Congregation Ministry meets at the church, 8447 Manresa Avenue, on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. and welcomes all interested parties.
To register for a wedding visit the Unitarian Universalist Church’s website, or call their office at (904)-276-3739.