Area marriage officiants set for same-sex unions

By Josette Keelor and Joe Beck

Elaine Lederman was surprised when she heard the news Monday that Virginia same-sex couples may legally marry.

But surprise quickly turned to excitement.

“I’m just like on a cloud right now, really,” she said. “I’m just so surprised ’cause it was really out of my radar.”

A court-appointed marriage officiant, Lederman plans to be at the Shenandoah County Circuit Courthouse in Woodstock beginning at 9 a.m. today to greet same-sex couples and offer them her services for free.

Usually she charges $50 to officiate a wedding in the living room of her Strasburg home, but this is a special occasion.

She wants to do it “to celebrate this historic day and encourage people to come out and get married.” A certified public accountant, she said she would have been at the courthouse Monday, but had to work. The courthouse will be open until 5 p.m.

Although long in coming, Lederman said Monday’s Supreme Court ruling blindsided her because of past near misses.

“I was surprised to ever see it come up [in August] in Virginia, and then it sort of went out of everyone’s radar,” she said.

Though friends of hers in same-sex relationships plan to marry, she said she hasn’t heard that they’ve sought licenses yet.

Sharon Hollar of Edinburg said no one has contacted her, either.

Asked her opinion on the ruling, she said, “We can’t discriminate against people. My job on this earth is not to judge someone. My job is to spread the word of God and that’s what I try to do.”

Since 1997 Hollar has performed more than 500 weddings, everywhere from taverns to hotel rooms.

Lederman, too, has presided over varied ceremonies — some with a handful of witnesses and others with hundreds of guests.

They will even call her from the courthouse, newly acquired marriage license in hand, and “come right over,” she said.

An officiant since 2002, she was inspired down that path by her own experience.

“I had been married by an officiant in Luray, and it just intrigued me,” she said. “It’s been a really great experience.”

“I think it’s the same thing no matter who’s getting married,” she said. “It’s always a wonderful aura of love and joy.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137, ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com, or staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com.