Levar Stoney spends first act as RVA Mayor officiating local gay couple’s wedding
John Maher’s online meet-up cute with his now-husband, Drew Thomasson, might have not be remarkable, but their marriage, the first official act of RVA’s new mayor Levar Stoney, was.
Maher, owner of local restaurant The Rogue Gentlemen, and Thomasson were together for nearly five years before exchanging rings in August of 2015. The two were officially wed, with Stoney officiating, at 12:01AM on New Year’s Eve, but Maher’s friendship with Stoney began roughly nine months before Stoney announced his candidacy.
“I got invited to the [Human Rights Campaign] Gala ball that happens every year, and Levar happened to be good friends with our mutual friend [Jeff Painter chairman of the board ABC and regular at the restaurant],” said Maher in an interview with GayRVA. “He was a really cool and down to earth guy, and I kind of got behind him really quickly. I’d mentioned that I own a restaurant and I’d love to fundraise for him, fully expecting to not hear from him again.” However, Stoney later held an official fundraiser at The Rogue Gentlemen.
Following a Style Weekly article on Stoney’s involvement in the marriage, there was some criticism that Stoney’s time could be better spent elsewhere.
The details, however, reveal slightly less room for disappointment.
“It was a Saturday, he wasn’t even in the office,” said Maher. “I think people are frustrated that our previous administration lacked the drive to get things done, and I can see where people would say, ‘oh, well he should be focusing on schools, or safety, or crime, or other major issues. Which I do understand, but this was midnight on a Saturday.”
Outgoing Mayor Jones had managed to avoid coming out in support of same-sex marriage despite the national shift in attitude during his tenure, though he had shown support for events like the Transgender Day of Remembrance and other LGBTQ events.
In the wake of the latest presidential election and the resulting worries of the LGBTQ community, Stoney’s political presence is a silver lining for some, and Stoney’s officiating role in the wedding is sure to leave a lasting impression.
“It clearly shows his support of the LGBT community, of marriage equality, of small business owners,” said Maher. “I was really excited because of the circumstance behind having to hurry up and get married.”
While the U.S. Supreme Court declared laws against same-sex marriage unconstitutional in June of 2015, Maher’s sense of urgency is carried on the coattails of President-elect Donald Trump.
“He has the ability to nominate a minimum of one supreme court justice and most likely two, and they will most likely be heavy conservatives, and they have the ability to reverse marriage equality,” said Maher. “So we decided to go ahead and get it official on paper while we still can and kind of hope for the best.”
On November 15 of 2016, President-elect Trump told CNN that same-sex marriage was something he was “fine” with, and that the ruling was “settled.” However, his pick for Supreme Court nominee remains up in the air, and the path to undoing the repeal is foreseeable.
Stoney has long pledged his support for LGBTQ issues, though few knew about this role in his marriage before it happened.
“I believe in marriage equality and a city that is welcoming to all,” said Stoney in a comment sent to GayRVA. “I will vigorously support the rights of every citizen, including members of the LGBTQ community, to legally marry. Love is love. ”
Image via the Rogue Gentlemen Instagram
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