Sunday, February 06, 2000

Mayors take marrying to heart




BY SARA J. BENNETT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Mayor Stephanie Summerow Dumas stood at the lectern of Forest Park's council chambers Wednesday, speaking in calm yet intense tones on a topic of great importance.

        Not water rates. Not crime reduction. But the everlasting bond between husband and wife.

        Her audience, April Kehrer, 26, and Randy Travis, 31, listened more intently than most constituents, too. The Colerain couple is the fifth Ms. Dumas has married in her two months as mayor.

        Ms. Dumas knew when she took office that mayors in Ohio have the power to conduct weddings. But she says she didn't fully appreciate that power until she stood before a man and women to bind them for life.

        “Just to know that you play a part in joining two people together is an awesome opportunity and responsibility,” Ms. Dumas said.

        Folks turned off by the hoopla of big ceremonies, those who prefer their nuptials quick and simple, and people who lack a preferred church or pastor, often opt for marriage-by-mayor.

        And mayors often find weddings a relief from the meetings, politicking and citizen complaints that are an everyday part of their jobs.

        In Ohio, election or appointment to the office of mayor entitles a person to conduct weddings within that county, said Jonathan Ring, supervisor of Hamilton County's marriage license department.

        Others vested with that power include probate and municipal court judges, and the superintendent of the state school for the deaf.

        Ms. Dumas finds her services are in demand.

        Tuesday night, she presided over a double wedding — the brides were mother and daughter. She married another couple immediately afterward.

        Sandy Ostenkamp, the mom in the double wedding, said she chose to get married by Ms. Dumas because it was convenient.

        “I thought having a female mayor was kind of neat, too,” she added.

        Donna Lajcak, mayor of Loveland, enjoys performing weddings so much that she's created a scrapbook she asks each couple to sign.

        “Not only do I think it's a lot of fun, but I think it's wonderful to become part of the lives of these people,” Ms. Lajcak said.

        With Valentine's Day coming, Ms. Lajcak said she expects to conduct a lot of weddings in the coming weeks. Loveland is known for its Valentine's Day celebrations, and Ms. Lajcak said, “I have seen one mayor conduct five or six weddings on that day!” At the Kehrer-Travis wedding, Ms. Dumas made every effort to make the occasion special.

        Never mind that members of a baseball committee were waiting outside to hold a meeting inadvertently scheduled for the same time. Never mind that the ceremony took just 10 minutes to conduct.

        The newlyweds “kept saying, "Thank you, thank you,'” Ms. Dumas said. “Well, it was my pleasure.”

       



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