I went to a wedding last Saturday night, along with 700 or so of my closest friends.
You're right — that's a big wedding. There were 20 people in the wedding party, and singing stars from Musical Theatre West provided the music. Only the iconic First Congregational Church could host such an affair.
Stories about the wedding hit all the local media. I'm not sure how far it reached, but it should have made it to at least the "in other news" section across the country.
Why? Because it was historic.
When the mayor of a city of 480,000 — somewhere between the 34th and 37th largest in the country — exchanges vows, it's big. Maybe not Prince Harry and Meghan Markle big, but big.
Add the fact that this was a marriage between two gay men, and I would venture to say that this was an event you aren't going to see the equal of anytime soon.
Remember, gay marriages weren't legal nationally until 2015. California was, as usual, ahead of the curve with gay marriages starting in 2008. Ten whole years ago.
Are you starting to see the context here?
As they say in the tabloids (wait, we're a tabloid too), everyone who was anyone was there. Two former mayors, Beverly O'Neill and Bob Foster, attended, and Foster offered the toast at the reception. There was a strong contingent from the LGBTQ community, with some breaking out in cheers as the ceremony progressed.
In short, it was a happening.
When we put the story up on our website (where, inexplicably, the name Mendoza appeared in the headline instead of Mendez — it was fixed in an hour), several of the comments were along the lines of "this isn't news" or "how much did this cost the city?" Some of this comes from the same people who complain about pretty much everything the city does, while others seemed legitimately perplexed over why there was so much attention paid to the nuptials.
I hope I've offered an explanation of the former. And since I was there, I think I can attest to the fact that no taxpayer money was spent on this bash.
The after-party (think reception times 10) took place at the Long Beach Museum of Art, a city-owned facility. But the bill was paid by the families, just like every other wedding at the museum.
It's true that a lot of city employees and elected officials attended. But they were all off the clock. Some did take advantage of their parking space at City Hall, a block away from the church,, but I fail to see where that's an expense.
I was all set to give the happy couple a gift (a one-of-a-kind work of art I've been trying to get rid of — I mean find a home for — for a year now). But a few days before the ceremony, I received directions that journalists and lobbyists attending could not bring gifts. Everything had to be recorded and reported to follow political guidelines. So I've still got a great piece of art for the asking.
So I will argue that I attended a historic occasion Saturday night, and it deserved to be covered as a news event. And I was there to celebrate the happiness of our mayor, Robert Garcia, as he and Matthew Mendez became a married couple. Congratulations guys.
Continue to make history.