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Group 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.

Mass-marriage 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 animalistic."

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 link below.)

“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 Day.

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."

Click here to read and sign the petition.

Same-sex 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 the wedding.

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 

 

Gay 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”.

LGBT 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.