Woman weds warehouse amid 'gay marriage' furor

SEATTLE - A beaming bride, a crumbling warehouse - Babylonia Aivaz said it's a love that will never die, as she exchanged wedding vows with the Seattle building on Sunday.

Aivaz and the 10th and Union warehouse entered into a self-described "gay marriage," surrounded by friends singing of love and united against displacement in their neighborhood by means of new development.

Aivaz told the crowd of approximately 50 people about her relationship with the building, which is slated to be demolished in a week to make way for a new apartment complex.

In December, she said, she and 16 Occupy Seattle activists linked arms and occupied the warehouse to fight against gentrification and for community space.

"I was transformed by the event," she said.

Despite demolition beginning earlier than expected Friday, the ceremony went on without a hitch, as Aivaz untied a banner on a fence surrounding the warehouse that read "I DO."

When the minister asked if she would "love and cherish and protect this warehouse," Aivaz responded in song.

"Come with me my love, to the sea, the sea of love. I want to tell you how much I love you," Aivaz sang, quoting "Sea of Love."

"Do you remember when we met? I cleaned your rooms and washed your floors, built community, opened some doors. You changed my life. I'll never forget the day we met. I'll cherish your community sprit until the day I die," she said, adding her own verses.

The ceremony continued with the calm but ecstatic guests singing "Lean on Me," laughing at children blowing bubbles and enjoying a neighborhood potluck with a vegan cake.

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While the majority of the crowd cheered for the love between the woman and the building, some disagreed with how Aivaz described it as a "gay marriage."

"With the delicate nature of Washington state and the attempt to legalize gay marriage, I find her saying it's a gay marriage disrespectful," said Phoenix Lopez.

Lopez and others who held signs reading "This is not a gay marriage," quietly stood in protest.

"Her saying it's a gay marriage sets the community back with Christians and politicians and gives them a chance to say, 'See, we told you, they're going to want to marry everything if we give them the opportunity,'" said Johnny McCollum-Blair. "Having compassion against something you love, I understand, but to call it a gay union is irresponsible."

Aivaz didn't reflect on the building's chosen gender, but reiterated the ceremony was in honor of her fight against gentrification.

"Gentrification is happening," Aivaz said. "It's a serious issue that affects poor people and especially people of color and this is just the beginning of the fight."

With her new bride's imminent demise, Aivaz said she would continue to work with the community to develop and create more ways to fight against unaffordable neighborhoods. She already has plans to fight for a neighboring community.

"My heart is in Yesler Terrace, that place is going to get gentrified really soon, so I'll follow my heart there next," she said.

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