A Love-Filled Weekend I Will Never Forget

My daughter Sarah burst out in tears when she told us she was lesbian.  Noel (her step-mother) and I had driven to Connecticut to visit her at college.  “I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want you to be upset about having two gay children,” she choked.  It had become obvious a few years earlier that her older brother was gay. Without hesitation, I assured Sarah of my love and support, but secretly I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be having grandchildren by my beloved daughter.

Some thirteen years later Sarah was living in California and we met her chosen life-partner, loving, cheerful and generous Marcie Smith.  Marcie eagerly and proudly supported Sarah, both emotionally and financially, through the long and arduous journey to her PhD in psychology.  At Sarah’s graduation celebration, I publicly  confessed my initial disappointment when Sarah told me of her sexual orientation, but affirmed that welcoming Marcie into the family as a second daughter more than made up for any lack of grandchildren.

The couple procured their marriage license during the eight months that California initially permitted same-sex marriage—before it was defeated by Proposition 8.  They had been planning a big celebrative occasion the next year, but Marcie’s mother became terminally ill and Marcie asked me if I would conduct her funeral.  We had met her mother at Sarah’s graduation.  We planned a trip to the West Coast with flexible dates.

So it was decided that the wedding would be a small, intimate living-room ceremony around the time of the funeral.  We flew out on a Saturday, had a wedding on Sunday afternoon, a funeral on Monday, and returned to New York on Tuesday.  It was August 2008. It was a profoundly poignant and love-filled weekend, one I will never forget (although I’m forgetting a lot of things these days).

We celebrated a meaningful and beautiful ceremony in front of their fireplace with 20 family members and friends in attendance and remembered Marcie’s mother.  The couple had written their own moving statements of love and commitment to be read to each other in addition to the vows.  I was proud to sign the legal marriage license.

It was a great privilege and a heart-felt satisfaction for me to conduct the wedding of my only daughter.  I did not hesitate in agreeing to it and will never regret it.

The surprise bonus is that three and a half years ago Sarah gave birth to my fourth granddaughter!


Joel Warner is a retired elder in the New York Annual Conference.


We Did is a project of Methodists in New Directions (MIND) dedicated to making visible our ministries to LGBTQ people and encouraging others in the UMC to transcend the institutional requirement to discriminate and make their ministries visible, too. It is part of the Biblical Obedience movement sweeping across the United Methodist Church. You can read all the We Did stories here.  We invite you to submit your own story to We Did.