The Irony of Chelsea Clinton’s Gay Wedding Planner

Chelsea Clinton’s recent wedding has been all over the news, but until recently, there was little said on who planned her lavish wedding. As it turns out, Bill and Hillary Clinton hired a gay man as the wedding planner. Bryan Rafanelli, a Boston-based event planner, planned the wedding, which cost just over $2 million.

So, why should we care about Chelsea’s wedding planner? Rafanelli is one of many event planners, plenty of whom are gay. He has planned events for the Clinton’s in the past, including a party during the Democratic National Convention in 2004 and a fundraiser for Hillary in 2008.

Yet, the fact that Rafanelli — a gay man — was asked by Bill Clinton to plan a wedding reeks of quite a bit of irony.

Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, resulting in the federal government only recognizing marriages between one man and one woman. The gay man who planned Chelsea’s wedding can’t have a federally recognized marriage because of Clinton’s decision, and gay couples across the country are barred from rights on a federal level because of DOMA.

Signing DOMA wasn’t the only anti-equality move under the Clinton administration. When he was president, the rate of gay people being discharged from the military doubled. And let’s not forget that it was President Bill Clinton who helped implement “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” in 1993.

It sort of begs the question: How can a gay man be good enough to plan a wedding, but not deserving of marriage or equal rights himself?

Did Rafanelli make a mistake by agreeing to plan the wedding instead of refusing on the grounds that Clinton signed DOMA? Hardly. Rafanelli was just doing his job as an event planner. But next time Bill Clinton hires Rafanelli to plan an event, perhaps the former President should keep in mind why Rafanelli can’t be federally recognized as married.

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