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Gay, straight couples say 'I do' to Justice Kennedy's words

Emily Smith and Jillian Levine had already chosen a venue, booked a band and written the first draft of the ceremony for their wedding when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay couples nationwide have a right to marry. Within minutes of the June 26 ruling, Levine texted her fiancée a rainbow emoji and a question about their ceremony.

"Are there any good quotes from this Supreme Court ruling that we could change the reading to?" wrote Levine, 30.

"Yup, already saved it," Smith, 29, typed back, sending a screen shot from Facebook with words that had made her cry.

It was the concluding paragraph of Justice Anthony Kennedy's 28-page majority opinion — now making its way into wedding ceremonies for both gay and straight couples.

"No union is more profound than marriage," Kennedy's opinion says, "for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were."

"It was just so perfect," Smith said in a telephone interview last month that followed a dress fitting for her now-wife.

Smith, who is studying to be a physician assistant, and Levine, who works in fundraising, married Saturday in Provincetown, Mass. The couple, now known as the Smiths, are not alone when it comes to their affinity for Kennedy's words.

Wedding officiants from as far away as Australia said both gay and straight couples are asking them to incorporate excerpts from the ruling into their ceremonies, usually part or all of the same paragraph that touched Smith and Levine. Couples said they want both to acknowledge the historic decision and to use language they described as "beautiful," "eloquent" and "powerful."

Kennedy's opinion isn't the first to make it into a marriage ceremony. After a 2003 Massachusetts court decision made the state the first to legalize gay marriage, many couples used language from that opinion. Less frequently but still regularly, couples chose words from a 2010 ruling invalidating Proposition 8, a California ballot measure that had made same-sex marriages illegal.

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