Gay parade wedding

Grooms Danny Leclair, right, and Aubrey Loots, left, wait for photos alongside the AIDS Healthcare Foundation float inside a warehouse at Fiesta Parade Floats December 31 2013 in Irwindale. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times / December 31, 2013)

Amid controversy, a gay couple are set to be married on a float Wednesday at the 125th Rose Parade.

“Rings, check. Suits, check. Boutonniere, check,” said groom Danny Leclair before the parade, adding that he and his fiance also packed sun screen for the heat and lozenges in anticipation of cheering on the float.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation float, titled “Living the Dream: Love Is the Best Protection,” was created to celebrate victories in 2013 for the same-sex marriage movement, including Supreme Court decisions upholding the repeal of California's Proposition 8 and striking down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Foundation spokesman Ged Kenslea said the organization supports legally sanctioning same-sex marriage because it encourages more stable relationships as well as behavior that will prevent the spread of HIV.

“We believe that marriage saves lives,” he said.

Though this will be the first wedding between a same-sex couple at the Rose Parade, Wednesday does not mark the first time a couple has been married on a float. At the 2013 Rose Parade, the Farmers Insurance Group float featured a wedding.

Leclair, 45, said Tuesday that he and fiance Aubrey Loots, 42, were going to skip out on midnight New Year’s Eve celebrations, and instead watch the ball drop in New York on television. He said they hoped to be fast asleep by 10 p.m., so they could wake up early to be at the parade by 6 a.m.

The parade begins at 8 a.m., and the wedding will be about 9:30 a.m.

“I have never been more anxious for a new year to begin,” he said.

A Facebook page has been started called “Boycott the 2014 Rose Parade,” with more than 7,100 “likes” as of Wednesday morning. A post reads: “Gay ‘marriage’ is still illegal in over 30 states. Why would the Tournament of Roses promote something illegal like that?”

“The theme of the parade is ‘Dreams come true’ Well this gay wedding on a float is a nightmare come true!” wrote one commenter on the page.

“Sin is sin, regardless of what politicians say!” wrote another.

For the last week, The Tournament of Roses Facebook page has been home to people arguing in comments about the wedding. While several wrote they were excited to watch the event -- “I think a wedding for the 125th is a marvelous idea. I haven't watched the parade in many years but I will this year,” wrote one -- some voiced anger, calling the wedding “unbiblical” and “highly offensive.”

“I can't think of many things LESS appropriate for families and especially children,” one wrote. “It's completely the wrong venue for a stunt like this.”

Rose Parade organizers defended the planned wedding.

In a statement released to The Times, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Assn. said it is “pleased” to have the foundation participate in this year’s event.

“It is the organization’s third entry in three years tied to their mission of delivering medical services and advocacy in fighting AIDS worldwide,” the statement says.

The foundation’s float will be one of the last in Wednesday's parade, and is not a “featured float,” with microphones. It will be on camera only for 15 seconds just before 9:45 a.m.
About 9:30 a.m., the couple, who together own a chain of Los Angeles hair salons, will be married by the Rev. Alfreda “Freda” Lanoix.

A lesbian couple, Sharon Raphael and Mina Meyer, who have been together for 42 years and married for five, will also be on the float and will serve as witnesses.

“It’s sad that there would even be controversy,” Meyer said before the parade. “I would’ve hoped that that would be over by now.”