upset by SA pastor's remarks
KSAT.com, February 23, 2012
A gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender activist group is calling for
changes to Bexar County's annual Valentine's Day wedding ceremonies after
they claim the pastor overseeing the event made offensive remarks towards
them during the midnight celebration.
remarks spark flap
San Antonio Express-News, February 22, 2012
The honeymoon may be over between Bexar County and a preacher who performs
free Valentine's Day weddings on the steps of the courthouse. Complaints
from gay couples about the preacher's remarks at a mass wedding last week
prompted County Judge Nelson Wolff to call for a re-examination of the
popular ritual and the perennial role of the Rev. Joe Sullivan.
Minister who performed
mass wedding compares LGBT couples to animals
QSanAntonio.com, February 20, 2012
The minister who annually performs mass weddings on the steps of the Bexar
County Courthouse told the San Antonio Current that the LGBT couples who
participated in the midnight ceremony were "disturbing and almost
In an interview with the Current's Newsmonger blog, Rev. Joe Sullivan
(pictured above) says that he was disturbed by the behavior of the dozen
or so LGBT couples who participated in his Courthouse ceremony. (Related
“The behavior I’m taking about is they were hugging and kissing
and licking each other’s faces, acting like, you know, like –
I don’t even know if animals act like that. … They were very,
I think, disturbing and almost animalistic there, a couple of them. They
were trying to make a display of what they call, I guess, affection. It
wasn’t affection to me. It was almost assault.”
In a report published in QSanAntonio (see related story below), Julie
Pousson of GetEqual Texas says, " Minister Joe Sullivan said that
our couples were there 'solely to be repulsive,' and he threatened them
with acts of vengeance on the part of God if they did not leave the courthouse
steps. Our beautiful couples stood their ground for more than five minutes
of hate speech and contradictory logic from the good minister before he
finally relented and performed the wedding."
Sullivan told the Current that the presence of the LGBT couples at his
event was an embarrassment. "I didn’t even look at them anymore
because they were embarrassing to me and a whole lot of other people.
I don’t hate homosexuals, but I hate homosexuality, I don’t
mind saying so. And I think I have a right to say that, don’t I?
I think it’s wrong and not of God. … I didn’t ask them
to leave, but I will say this: I would have been glad if they had.”
According to the Current, Sullivan is a professor of psychology at San
Antonio College and the pastor of two local churches. An internet search
shows that he also owns a business named Beautiful Weddings by Rev. Joe
Sullivan located on Jackson Keller Road.
Pousson says that she contacted the officials at the County Courthouse
to see if she could schedule a time next year when a more inclusive wedding
ceremony could be held. She was told that no other times were available,
that Rev. Sullivan had exclusive use of the Courthouse steps on Valentine's
Pousson told the Current: "We just want we want a ceremony that’s
more reflective of San Antonio, more diverse. … We don’t want
couples shouted down if they want to participate.”
To that end, Pousson has started circulating an online petition asking
officials at the Bexar County Courthouse to "open Valentine's Day
wedding ceremonies on the Bexar County, Texas Courthouse steps to attendant
clergy from various congregations."
The petition goes on to say: "Pastor Joe Sullivan has been the sole
clergy member to officiate over these events, and he has built a career
for himself in the wedding industry over those years. On Valentine's Day,
2012, Pastor Sullivan stated that several gay couples were in attendance
solely 'to be repulsive' and 'disgusting', and he repeatedly threatened
them with vengeance on the part of God."
Saying that no one should have a monopoly a public event held on the Courthouse
steps, the petition concludes, "We ask that Bexar County open these
ceremonies to attendant clergy by lottery, and that they allow future
Valentine's Day wedding celebrations to truly reflect the diversity and
magnificence that is Bexar County, Texas."
couples snubbed at mass marriage
San Antonio Current, February 17, 2012
A group of LGBT activists are fuming that this year, when a dozen or so
same-sex couples joined in to exchange vows on the courthouse steps, they
got a religious slapping from Rev. Joe Sullivan. “He said we were
there solely to be repulsive and disgusting,” said Julie Pousson,
an activist with Get Equal Texas.
Despite admonition from
minister, LGBT couples exchange marriage vows
Photos by Lauryn Farris, QSanAntonio.com, February 1 5, 2012
The Rev. Joe Sullivan, the Baptist minister who conducts mass weddings
on Valentine's Day, threatened LGBT couples with "acts of vengeance"
from God if they participated in the midnight ceremony.
Despite his admonition all of the gay couples stood firm and exchanged
vows along with hundreds of others on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse.
The LGBT couples were there as part of a protest staged by the Direct
Action Network of San Antonio.
DANSA's Valentine's Day wedding action was organized in conjunction with
National Freedom to Marry Week. It was one of the many marriage-related
protests and events held throughout cities in Texas and across the country.
(See related stories below.)
Following is a report from activist Julie Pousson who was at the San Antonio
mass wedding at midnight on Valentine's Day:
"Minister Joe Sullivan said that our couples were there 'solely to
be repulsive,' and he threatened them with acts of vengeance on the part
of God if they did not leave the courthouse steps. Our beautiful couples
stood their ground for more than five minutes of hate speech and contradictory
logic from the good minister before he finally relented and performed
During his sermon, he told new wives to get up at two a.m. and bake lemon
pies for their husbands, if that's what they ask for. He told the men
to buy their wives new cars if they ask for them . . . demonstrating that
his bigotry is as wide as it is deep. This man does not represent our
beautiful city. He does not represent any loving God."
DANSA press conference
outlines Valentine's marriage protest
YouTube, February 13, 2012
couples participate in Bexar County marriage ceremony
WOAI-TV, February 14, 2012
Representatives for Direct Action Network of San Antonio made the announcement
Monday morning. But they want to make clear they will not protest, and
instead they will show support for marriage equality for all. John Dean
Domingue, a spokesperson for DANSA said, “There is a lack of marriage
equality in Texas and across the nation. Tonight we are reminded of the
Texas constitutional ban on the legal recognition of marriage”.
couples to exchange vows at annual mass wedding
Photos by Lauryn Farris, QSanAntonio.com, February 9, 2012
Despite what Texas law may allow, some local LGBT couples will be among
those exchanging vows at midnight on Valentine's Day when the Rev. Joe
Sullivan conducts his annual mass wedding ceremony on the steps of the
Bexar County Courthouse.