Despite a ban on gay marriage in the state of New York, a pop-up wedding chapel has opened on the Lower East Side that can perform marriage ceremonies for both homosexuals and heterosexuals.
No bigger than a garage, the narrow space known as “Grand Opening” is a rotating storefront, with a new concept opening every three or four months. The space, owned by Kevin Fey and Joseph Peter, has been a drive-in movie theater and a ping-pong parlor in the past. It can be found at 139 Norfolk Street, currently with several rows of chairs for guests, flowers on the walls, and dreamy lights strung across the ceiling.
The marriages are performed by Fey, who became a reverend over the Internet through Universal Life Church. Ceremonies can cost between 100 and 500 dollars at Grand Opening. Heterosexual couples can get legally married in just 10 minutes, as simple and as valid as a wedding in city hall or in a Las Vegas chapel.
The ceremonies are without religious references and include the traditional exchange of rings and vows. The homosexual marriage ceremonies performed are not legal due to the state’s gay marriage ban, but are symbolic acts of protest. Couples who are native New Yorkers will still marry legally, or have already married legally, but choose to get fake married so they can have a ceremony at home with family and friends. Gay marriage is currently legal in six states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Iowa and Vermont.
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