Civil Liberties

Jeweler Hits Up D.C.'s Gays For Three Months Salary. That's What I Call Progress.


If everything goes off without a hitch in the halls of Congress, gay people will be able to get legally hitched in Washington, D.C., on March 2. And one man, at least, is poised to profit off that moment, God bless him. Regional D.C. diamond mogul Ronnie Mervis hosted a party at his downtown jewelry store yesterday, targeted at getting his hands on local gays' three months salary as soon as humanly possible. The invite said the event was to"mark a historic occasion." By which he naturally meant "the unveiling of our first-ever line of gay wedding rings"!

Jonathan Mervis, the son of the owner and the company's "digital strategist" explained the decision making process. The timing of the event, he says, wasn't about playing the politics of gay marriage (although they welcomed the chance to do something "positive"), it was about gearing up a marketing campaign on Mervis's new product line before the official legal deadline. In other words, making money: "We wanted to do something to get the word out early."

Mervis fils said he contacted one of Mervis's designers with an idea for a gay line, only to discover that the designer had a stash of rings ready, but had failed to drum up interest. The jewelers decided to pull the trigger. "Being younger, I personally wasn't worried. I just thought 'It's 2010. Grow up!' I was worried that my parents' generation would be worried." But he says his dad surprised him by agreeing to the plan.

Mervis says he has received only one lone angry email so far. Far more typical was this tweet:

wow—Mervis Diamond Importers supports teh Gheys!

As local caterers passed out samples of their wares and shoppers snagged complimentary champagne, I chatted with a man of the church looking to drum up business as well. Sporting a vibrant magenta shirt and clerical dog collar, Michael Seneco, the Bishop of North America of the Old Catholic Church says he performs about 120 marriages a year, half a dozen of which are gay unions. "People don't think of the church as a business, but it is" he says, explaining that the income from the marriages he performs support the rest of his ministry.

Like many cheerleaders for gay marriage, Rev. Seneco suggested that legalizing gay marrige will be a boost to the local economy. That argument's a little dubious: it's not as if gay men and women across America have special wedding piggy banks tucked inside their hope chests labeled "Break in Case of Legalized Gay Marriage." Still, it's nice to see a company treating gay men and women just like the rest of us: suckers in love who will pay an inordinate amount for jewelry.