Justice Ginsburg Officiates at Kennedy Center Chief's Wedding

Monday, September 02, 2013 - 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated at a same-sex wedding this weekend in what is believed to be a first for a member of the nation's highest court.

Ginsburg officiated Saturday at the marriage of Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser and John Roberts, a government economist.

"Michael Kaiser is a friend and someone I much admire," Ginsburg said in a written statement Friday. "That is why I am officiating at his wedding."

The private ceremony took place at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a national memorial to President John F. Kennedy. The 80-year-old Ginsburg, an opera lover, is a frequent guest at the center.

Same-sex marriage is legal in the District of Columbia and 13 states.

"I think it will be one more statement that people who love each other and want to live together should be able to enjoy the blessings and the strife in the marriage relationship," Ginsburg told The Washington Post in an interview.

"It won't be long before there will be another" performed by a justice. She has another ceremony planned for September.

Kaiser told The Associated Press that he asked Ginsburg to officiate because she is a longtime friend.

"It's very meaningful mostly to have a friend officiate, and then for someone of her stature, it's a very big honor," Kaiser said. "I think that everything that's going on that makes same-sex marriage possible and visible helps to encourage others and to make the issue seem less of an issue, to make it just more part of life."

Justices generally avoid taking stands on political issues. The wedding, though, comes after the court's landmark ruling in June to expand federal recognition of same-sex marriages, striking down part of an anti-gay marriage law.

While hearing arguments in the case in March, Ginsburg argued for treating marriages equally. The rights associated with marriage are pervasive, she said, and the law had created two classes of marriage, full and "skim-milk marriage."

Before the court heard arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act, Ginsburg told The New Yorker magazine in March that she had not performed a same-sex marriage and had not been asked. Justices do officiate at other weddings, though.

"I don't think anybody's asking us, because of these cases," she told the magazine. "No one in the gay-rights movement wants to risk having any member of the court be criticized or asked to recuse. So I think that's the reason no one has asked me."

Asked whether she would perform such a wedding in the future, she said: "Why not?"

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