(LOS ANGELES) — Amid the floral floats, spirited marching bands, and high-stepping equestrian units at next year’s Tournament of Roses Parade, a gay couple is set to marry.
On New Year’s Day, with tens of millions watching, the two grooms – Aubrey Loots, 42, and Danny Leclair, 45, of Los Angeles, — will profess their love on a giant wedding cake-shaped float, a first in the parade’s 125-year history.
“No sense of doing it small,” said Danny Leclair on the phone from his office in Los Angeles.
A play on the parade’s 2014 theme “Dreams Come True,” and sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the float will celebrate same-sex marriage and the role it can play in helping to reduce new HIV infections among gay men.
The Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to strike down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act is what many gay couples like Leclair and Loot have been waiting for.
The two – together for 12 years – celebrated a commitment ceremony five years ago. The two hoped for something more.
The opportunity to get hitched presented itself in October when Leclair attended a same-sex wedding expo and applied for a chance of a lifetime – the chance to marry on top of the 2014 Roses Parade.
Leclair submitted an application and quickly fired off a text to his boyfriend with the picture of two grooms accompanied with the phrase “will you marry me.” Five weeks later the two were selected.
For a couple accustomed to living a spontaneous life, the unorthodox wedding announcement “didn’t surprise a lot of friends,” said Leclair laughing.
Shortly afterwards, the two were peppered with warm thoughts and well wishes from around the world on their Facebook page.
Leclair and Loots will be married by a minister as they pass down Colorado Avenue in Pasadena.
Leclair said he’s unsure what the two will wear, but promised their outfits will incorporate their own personal style.
And to make the ceremony more personal, Leclair said that he will read one of his favorite Nelson Mandela quotes in homage to the South African civil rights leader and Leclair’s boyfriend, who both are from South Africa.
Although California permits same-sex marriage, there is no same-sex marriage in 34 states and the rights of gay couples are restricted in many part of the country.
“We are standing up to all that,” said Leclair, who hoped the opportunity of tying the knot in front of a worldwide audience of about 80 million will expand the conversation on gay and lesbian rights. “We are standing up on that cake so that we hope it will expand the conversation.”
Leclair added, “We’re responsible for changing people’s minds. We need to say whom we love without shame.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Holly Yan, David Williams and Steve Almasy, CNN
Doug Criss, CNN
David Goldman, CNN