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Top Chef Host Colicchio Speaks Out on Marriage Equality After Contestants are Asked to Cook at a Heterosexual Wedding


Top Chef's Tom Colicchio spoke out for marriage equality following an episode this week in which contestants were required to cook for a wedding. Lesbian contestant Ashley voiced anger at being forced to cook for a wedding when same-sex couples are not allowed to marry. Another lesbian contestant, Preeti, was not as angry even though she's been with her partner for 13 years.

Said Colicchio in a blog post: Colicchio "I’m going to go out on a limb and say a few words about same-sex marriage: First of all, part of the problem with the issue is that it is framed by opponents as a discussion of whether gay people should get special rights. This is specious – yes, special legislation or court decisions grant them the right to wed in a particular state, however this is done to ensure that they share equal protection under the law by finally being able to avail themselves of the same rights as everyone else.  They are not seeking special treatment, just equitable treatment. Second, religion has no business being part of the discussion. When a couple is wed in a house of worship, the officiant may be performing a religious rite, but as far as the law is concerned, that officiant has been authorized to perform a civil function, plain and simple. And even were same-sex marriage to be legalized by the state, no one would be holding a gun to the heads of the clergy to require them to perform a ceremony that their faith or personal creed does not condone.  Just as some rabbis would not perform my marriage to my wife because I wasn’t Jewish, clergy can decline performing same-sex marriages; gay couples can either find clergy willing to officiate or can be wed in a civil setting. The idea that religious leaders are continuing to shape state law is just wrong. The institution of marriage should be available to all. The idea that you can have a life-long partner and not make decisions for them in a hospital, not share in insurance benefits, not automatically have parental rights unless you are the birth parent, is just flat-out wrong."

Watch the segment of the show with Ashley's complaint, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Actually JT Ramon, EVERYTHING IS POLITICAL until it's made non-political by treating LGBT citizens like everyone else.

    How is possible that you and your man are so removed from everyone else and so content with the fact that "you got yours" that you don't support people who speak up on your behalf? Don't you want equal rights? I must emphasize that I am NOT ragging on you, I just want to understand. I dream of the day I can say me and Papi have been together for so many years, but, I would love to be able to say "married" before I say years.

    Don't you?

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Aug 28, 2009 7:04:50 PM

  2. Derek

    isn't that the repub platform

    "I've got mine, so screw the rest of ya"

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Aug 28, 2009 9:20:40 PM

  3. Wow, I didn't think Colicchio was that well versed. Good job. Sorry that I thought you were a douche bag. It's that whole "sniff and sneer" thing you do. And the douchetache. Just sayin.

    Posted by: Beef and Fur | Aug 28, 2009 10:17:43 PM

  4. "So when my partner and I got married..., had we had Ashley do the food it would have been okay. If my wonderful sister and her fiance asked her, she'd tell them to fuck off?"

    What a ridiculous argument.

    Even if she did tell them to fuck off, your wonderful sister could simply go down the street and choose another caterer for her wedding -- a wedding that is recognized at the federal level.

    Gays and lesbians don't have the luxury of simply going down the street and choosing another preacher or justice of the peace that will marry them legally, except in a few states where it's only recognized on a state level.

    Do you think before you post, or do you just jerk your knee?

    Posted by: Yeah | Aug 28, 2009 10:49:46 PM

  5. So great this was on TV, if only it had been on a network. I think it's great that an honest conversation was had by the beans and they shared their differing viewpoints. Myself, I'm so with Ashley and the wonderfully articulate Tom.

    Posted by: David R. | Aug 28, 2009 11:41:21 PM

  6. Bottom line: It doesn't matter if you believe in marriage, if you think it's an outdated heterosexual institution or not. It's about equal rights for EVERYBODY. It's not about religion, but about the law.

    In a perfect world no straight couple would even want to get married until ALL couples are able to do the same, and BE the same, under the law. Marriage has absolutely no meaning when some loving couples are being denied the rights that other loving couples have.
    Until then, it's a fake institution.

    But boycotting a wedding, where they clearly would like to have you there, just because it's a straight couple, is counter productive I think.

    Posted by: TheNiebur | Aug 29, 2009 3:37:30 AM

  7. First, bravo Tom! You, sir, are made of awesome.

    Second ... I'm queer, and I wanna get married too. And Ashley is entitled to her opinion. But I'm a chef too, and if I turned down wedding gigs, taking my frustrations out on the straight couples, I'd be cutting off my own nose to spite my face, and I'd be bankrupt pretty soon.

    Marriage equality will come, sooner than we think. But if you're a chef for your living, either do your job or find another line of work. Discriminating against straight couples who want food at their wedding is inappropriate.

    Posted by: Sean | Aug 29, 2009 4:01:13 AM

  8. In the first season of Top Chef they catered a wedding for a gay male couple. They didn't make a big deal about it, they just looked at it as a wedding function to be catered. Almost every season they've catered a wedding, and every season has had gay contestants. She should understand that top chef is all about equality. It probably just happened this year that the coupe getting married this year was hetero. The show is in Vegas this season, and given that marriage is not legal there, there might be less gay people having big elborate ceremonies that need to be catered by top chef.

    Posted by: Paul | Aug 29, 2009 9:25:54 AM

  9. "But I'm a chef too, and if I turned down wedding gigs, taking my frustrations out on the straight couples, I'd be cutting off my own nose to spite my face, and I'd be bankrupt pretty soon."

    Valid point, Sean. If Ashley were in your position, she'd be hurting her own pocketbook by turning down a straight wedding. But she's not in your position. She's on a reality TV show and she wasn't turning anything down; she was making a point while she had a great platform to do so. She wasn't, in reality, discriminating against anyone, but, in reality, we are discriminated against daily because our weddings, in most of the US, have no legal meaning whatsoever. Even if some found her style annoying (lord knows, the show's editors aim to make the contestants seem annoying), reminding straight people, on occasion, that what they take for granted is out of our reach doesn't harm them. Not being able to marry harms us. They are not equivalent.

    Posted by: Ernie | Aug 29, 2009 11:54:18 AM

  10. Yes again, Thank you Tom!This is not a way to win an honor as Top Chef and be awarded the monies that go along with such an honor! Ashely should have kept her mouth shut! Gays wonder why others have such a bad preconcieved notions about us! Here is the Poster Child for their notion! It's one thing to stand up a say something that you believe in, but it is another to stand up show your ass to nation on national TV! I hope,as a gay man, that Ashely packs up her knives and leaves!

    Posted by: Steve Kerbow | Aug 29, 2009 1:18:40 PM

  11. Ernie, well said.

    Steve Kerbow. Not.

    Posted by: CM | Aug 29, 2009 2:40:07 PM

  12. To Steve Kerbow and the others who are gushing over Tom's remarks while saying Ashley was way out of line: Tom only made those pro-gay remarks (which I applaud--they were thoughtful and enlightened) in RESPONSE to Ashley's protests. So the good that is coming from his blog post--and I believe good is coming from it--can be traced directly back to her. So, while you may not like her pushiness on unwillingness to just shut up and cook, it was her rabble-rousing that inspired Tom to speak out against discrimination. But that's typical: disapprove of the rabble-rousers till their message is delivered by a more palatable source.

    Posted by: Ernie | Aug 29, 2009 4:15:39 PM

  13. i think this speaks to a larger context of TV shows showing gays and lesbians in the "lifestyle" service industry, making the lives of straight people (the consumer the advertiser is after) better/more beatuiful:
    Shear Genius, Top Chef, Project Runway, Queer Eye, Work Out, Flipping Out

    Where are the shows that show LGBTers in other professions? And that don't have this gay service/straight consumer dynamic?

    Posted by: maxx | Aug 29, 2009 4:19:30 PM

  14. Maxx, you mean those popular reality TV shows Iron Lawyer, in which legal teams face off against each other in one hour courtroom battles? Or Top Surgeon, where they compete on their knife skills and the first to lose a patient is sent home with his scalpels?

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Aug 29, 2009 4:51:04 PM

  15. I thought Ashley came off as annoying in the episode personally- does anyone watching Bravo not know about the gay marriage debate? I like to think we're past the point of "raising awareness" on the issue. Her making her point didn't really do anything, the couple getting married didn't make the law and probably didn't do anything to support anti-gay marriage legislation. Gay marriage is the nice hot-button issue of the moment, but I still live in a state where sexual orientation isn't considered a protected minority status and even if tomorrow Obama signed into law a "Gay marriage is here" bill my potential partner and I could still be evicted, or fired, or dropped from our now shared health care and not have shit to say about it.

    Honestly, I feel that the fact that popular television shows like Top Chef regularly have openly gay contestants where their sexuality is pretty much a non-issue does more for the progression of gay rights than a very watered down "protest" by one contestant. We're just regular people, trying to make some fuckin gnocchi, just like everybody else =]

    Posted by: Matt | Aug 30, 2009 9:58:06 PM

  16. damn, that man is HOT. and smart too. "specious" ? seriously? used correctly?!?! H.O.T.

    Posted by: indiana | Aug 31, 2009 6:04:11 PM

  17. Geez Ashley, Get over it...there was nothing during that challenge to get upset about. Voice your opinions to the politicians of your state and then carry on...

    Posted by: tom c | Sep 9, 2009 11:41:11 PM

  18. exactly! it's so friggin obvious!

    tom, i wish we could clone you and install one of you in every house on the planet. unlike so many who actively or passively destroy society, you actually add value to our world. you are a true artist and a gentleman at every level.

    Posted by: Ophelia | Sep 4, 2013 1:09:35 PM

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