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A gay-wedding anthem

Last month, right around the time that gay and lesbian couples began getting married in Massachusetts, Steve Pratt discovered the perfect gay-nuptials song. The Worcester justice of the peace and professional wedding planner had been frantically searching for the proper music to play during the slew of same-sex marriages he has scheduled throughout the summer. Before then, he had been relying on the standard straight-wedding stock — Pachelbel’s Canon in D, "Ave Maria," and several Barbra Streisand songs. Then he heard the lyrics of "I Do," a simple, soft ballad reminiscent of works by 1970s icon Karen Carpenter.

"I loved the song immediately," Pratt remembers. After all, it is not a spin-off of wedding tunes for heterosexuals, nor is it an unoriginal cover. Instead, it’s a full-fledged sentimental love song written especially for gay men and lesbians in celebration of their right to legally wed. "It touched my heart," he says earnestly, "and I knew if it touched my heart, it would touch others’."

Recently, Pratt began touting "I Do" to gay Bay Staters tying the knot, and has heard nothing but rave reviews. "People are like, ‘Oh, my God. This is just beautiful,’ " he says. This month, the song will be featured during five of Pratt’s same-sex ceremonies. That, it seems to Pratt, makes "I Do" what he calls "one of the biggest hits in the same-sex-wedding world."

The mastermind behind the tune is none other than Maryann Sfarzo, a fiftysomething straight woman from California. Sfarzo, who sings for a living, got the inspiration for what’s billed as "the first ceremonial wedding song for same-sex marriages" after watching the gay-nuptial frenzy in San Francisco in February. She and her husband, Ron — a full-time police officer and part-time keyboardist — had traveled to the city after Valentine’s Day, when Mayor Gavin Newsom began marrying gay and lesbian couples at San Francisco City Hall. The festive scene moved Sfarzo. "I was totally impressed with the joy the gay community was feeling," she says. "People were so thrilled to be able to get married and make their relationship legal."

So she returned home with an idea: she would write a special wedding song for gay and lesbian couples, so they wouldn’t have to borrow the standards. She penned the lyrics, keeping the struggle for civil-marriage rights in mind. ("The road that led us to this moment was not an easy climb./The world would not accept us as we lived our lives.")

Within a week, she and her husband had recorded it and, days later, it was being played on the airwaves by the Bay Area’s KGO-AM radio.

Ever since, "I Do" has ranked high among altar-bound same-sex couples. Sfarzo has fielded orders for copies of the song through her Web site (www.idoo.us) from such far-flung places as Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and, of course, Massachusetts. Later this month, she and her husband expect to travel to New York City, where they will perform "I Do" during the third annual Gay Pride mass wedding. In July, they will hand out free copies of the song to newlywed gay and lesbian couples who have booked a Bahamas cruise with R Family Vacations, the gay-family-friendly travel company co-founded by Rosie O’Donnell, her partner, Kelli, and Gregg Kaminsky.

Naturally, Sfarzo is thrilled with the song’s sudden success. In 20 years, she predicts, the issue of gay marriage "won’t even be discussed. Gays will be married and that will be that." For now, though, she’s witnessing history and, as she puts it, "We are just thrilled to be able to be a small part of it."

In Worcester, Pratt would have to agree. "At the moment," he says, "this is the biggest hit in the same-sex-wedding world. It’s definitely the nicest."

Issue Date: June 11 - 17, 2004
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