The recent landmark ruling on same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court has many people celebrating – and what better way to do that than with a big, lavish wedding?
While there are several high-profile gay and lesbian characters, even couples, on TV these days, there have been few on-screen nuptials over the years. But perhaps that will quickly change, now that same-sex marriage is becoming legal in a growing number of states. In fact, word is out that Modern Family’s Mitch and Cam might be tying the knot in Season Five.
Here, we chronicle the history of same-sex weddings on TV with ten of the best ceremonies so far.
Bet you didn’t know that the first same-sex wedding on U.S. television – network TV, at that – aired on the Fox sitcom Roc way back in 1991. The Season One episode “Can’t Help Loving That Man,” focuses on Roc’s uncle (Shaft’s Richard Roundtree) revealing he’s gay, and the family’s subsequent struggle to accept his lifestyle, ultimately culminating with Roc (Charles S. Dutton) hosting the ceremony in his home. The episode took home a GLAAD award that year for the positive portrayal. Who knew Roc would be such a trailblazer?
Four years after the groundbreaking Roc nuptials, a 1995 episode of Roseanne featured Martin Mull’s recurring character Leon marrying his boyfriend (Fred Willard). It wasn’t the classiest wedding ever, but what do you expect from Roseanne? In it, Mariel Hemingway reprised her role as the woman Roseanne kissed two seasons earlier, and Milton Berle appeared in drag. ABC aired the “December Bride” episode in a later time slot due to its “adult humor” – falling short of saying the presence of drag queens, male strippers and an off-screen same-sex kiss had anything to do with the decision.
Mere weeks after the Roseanne wedding, Friends took a splashy stand by airing the high-profile 1996 episode “The One With the Lesbian Wedding,” featuring Ross’ ex-wife Carol (Jane Sibbett) marrying her girlfriend (Jessica Hecht). Although some NBC affiliates refused to air the episode, a staggering 31.6 million viewers tuned in that week. As part of the underlying social commentary, conservative politician Newt Gingrich’s sister Candace, a gay-rights activist, officiated the faux ceremony.
Queer as Folk
Surprisingly, it took several years for cable TV to catch up to the trend, with Showtime’s Queer as Folk clocking in as the first of its kind to feature same-sex vows. (It’s also the first to involve main characters.) The 2002 episode “The Wedding” showed lovers Lindsay (Thea Gill) and Melanie (Michelle Clunie) tying the knot. The series would eventually lead Michael (Hal Sparks) and Ben (Robert Gant) down the aisle too – but, sadly, not Brian (Gale Harold) and Justin (Randy Harrison), who called off their engagement in the series finale.
Six Feet Under
In another series finale, however, we got to see two fan-favorites finally say “I do,” as HBO’s Six Feet Under included a fast-forward sequence showing longtime lovers David (Michael C. Hall) and Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) at the altar. The 2005 episode “Everyone’s Waiting” features a glimpse into the entire cast’s future, which includes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ceremony between the couple. The union was bittersweet for viewers, though, as the montage also reveals how everyone dies.
Brothers & Sisters
Another beloved couple, Kevin (Matthew Rhys) and Scotty (Luke Macfarlane) from ABC’s Brothers & Sisters, wed in 2008. The “Prior Commitments” episode marked the first-ever same-sex ceremony on network TV between series regulars, and the first time a gay wedding was featured on a season finale. Calista Flockhart’s character Kitty, Kevin’s sister, officiated the casual affair, which closed out Season Two of the show.
All My Children
In another first, the ABC soap opera All My Children aired daytime television’s first same-sex wedding in 2009, between Bianca (Eden Riegel) and Reese (Tamara Braun). Bianca, daughter of Erica Kane (played by Susan Lucci, who’s arguably the most popular and well-known soap star ever), has provided daytime TV with lots of firsts – first major character to come out (2000), first lesbian kiss (2003) and first same-sex engagement (2008).
ABC did it again in 2011, joining two major lesbian characters in holy matrimony on Grey’s Anatomy. In the episode “White Wedding,” Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) get hitched in a traditionally lavish ceremony, juxtaposing the utilitarian courthouse quickie between Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) that takes place at the same time. But as with anything on the primetime soap, it isn’t quite happily ever after for the same-sex couple, as the Season Nine finale sees them potentially heading for Splitsville. Season 10 premieres in Fall 2013.
In a late-night milestone, Conan O’Brien made TV history when he officiated the on-air wedding of his longtime costume designer Scott Cronick to partner David Gorshein on his self-titled TBS talk show. The event took place during a special episode in New York on the Conan show’s one-year anniversary. Andy Cohen, host of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, walked Cronick down the aisle. Despite the unorthodox setting, the Jewish ceremony went off without a hitch, and came complete with confetti and a passionate kiss between the grooms.
The Real L Word
Biting off namesake The L Word, this Showtime reality series follows a revolving group of lesbians, in both Los Angeles and Brooklyn, N.Y., navigating dating, relationships, friendship, coming out and everything in between. But unlike the scripted Showtime drama, in which Shane (Katherine Moennig) and Carmen (Sarah Shahi) called off their wedding at the 11th hour, one real-life couple went through with their ceremony on The Real L Word. The Season Three “Perfect Day” finale featuring Whitney and Sara’s wedding aired in 2012.