Gay Couple Recalls Being Married by RBG

Sunday September 20, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated was for Ralph Pellecchio and Dr. James Carter Wernz.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated was for Ralph Pellecchio and Dr. James Carter Wernz.  (Source:Spectrum News)

As recently as September 1, Ruth Gater Ginsburg officiated one of the many same-sex weddings she has done over her long career. On that date the late Supreme Court justice married Barb Solish and Danny Kazin, the Associated Press reported.

"Ginsburg, 87, officiated the couple's wedding, according to a tweet from Solish that showed the justice sitting between the couple at a lectern, clad in her judicial robe and signature black-and white-collar."

She is also being remembered as "the first Supreme Court member to perform same sex marriage ceremonies, Justice Ginsburg helped many men and women break barriers — and form their families," writes the website Spectrum's NY 1 news network..

"She began officiating gay marriages just a few months after she joined a landmark Supreme Court decision that made the federal government recognize gay marriages in June 2013."

One of the first was between Ralph Pellecchio and Dr. James Carter Wernz, a Manhattan couple who were together for more than 30 years before tying the knot on October 26, 2013. "They say they were the first gay couple to get married at the Supreme Court," writes Spectrum News.

"Pellecchio first met Ginsburg in 1975 when he was a student in one of her classes at Columbia Law School.

"She was brilliant, inspirational in terms of her teaching of the law and also the most wonderfully warm human being," he told Spectrum News. "It was one of the best experiences I had in law school."

They kept in touch over the years, and he remembers that when she was appointed to SCOTUS, he sent her a congratulatory letter, to which she replied.

When the couple were legally able to tie the knot, Pellechhio reached out to Ginsburg to see if she could officiate the ceremony, thinking that it likely wouldn't happen. But a few days later he received a letter asking them to pick a date. She even helped them write their wedding vows.

"I grew up in a very small town in Eastern Washington State with 365 people, very closeted when I was younger, of course. And to realize, there I was with my family in the Chambers of the United States Supreme court in front of Justice Ginsburg, it was overwhelming," Wernz told Spectrum News. "It was one of the most significant points of my life."

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