I now pronounce them husband and husband: Sir Elton John and his longtime partner David Furnish officially married yesterday at their Windsor estate in England — exactly nine years to the date they got hitched in a civil partnership ceremony, according to The Guardian.
Same-sex marriage just became legal in Britain earlier this year, and the John-Furnish family set up a wedding to remember, which was Instagramed live to fans around the globe, who got to participate in the wedding as a social media event. John kicked it off by posting an invitation with the couple’s initials, which read “Sir Elton and David Furnish request the pleasure of your company to celebrate their wedding”.
Throughout the event, postings went live on Instagram, many from Furnish’s own phone, according to the Guardian.
The couple has been together 22 years, and have two kids, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John, who wore matching dark blue suits like their dads in the wedding party. Both boys carried the wedding rings, Elijah carried a stuffed white rabbit, too.
Unlike their lavish 2005 ceremony — which had 650 guests — this one was more low-key. But there were still plenty of celebrity attendees including Liz Hurley, Ed Sheeran, David Walliams, Sarah Ferguson, Ozzy Osbourne, Ringo Starr, Hugh Grant, Kate Bush, and David and Victoria Beckham and their four kids (John is godparent to two of them). (Beckhams’ son Brooklyn tweeted the menu: beef short rib and carmelized onion pie was the entrée.)
For John and Furnish, the wedding isn’t the only 2014 accomplishment. An important component of the couple’s relationship — the Elton John AIDS Foundation — has granted more than $6.8 million this year to fight HIV and the stigma around it. John, who founded the organization in 1992, wrote about the need to focus on HIV and AIDS in a recent New York Times op-ed, “Don’t Forget About AIDS,” while Furnish, chairman of the EJAF, penned an op-ed for HIV Plus and The Advocate, “We Can Replace Silence and Stigma With Knowledge and Compassion.”
Both men have taken to the media recently to talk about how the rate of new HIV infections, particularly among LGBTQ African-American and Latino men, has continued to rise and stigma and discrimination against those who are poz is innumerable, funding for HIV and AIDS fell by 8 percent last year — to the lowest level of funding since 2007, according to a new report from Funders Concerned About AIDS. The EJAF is working to reverse that trend and last week announced more than $3.2 million in new grants — 12 new and 40 renewal grants to innovative projects addressing the Foundation’s strategic grant priorities, including six new grants funded under EJAF’s LGBTQ Community Initiative.
“The Elton John AIDS Foundation is committed to confronting HIV/AIDS where it exists,” said John. “We recognize that the health needs and rights of LGBTQ people are critical components to ending HIV in the United States. The Foundation also recognizes the lack of funding and leadership in this area and is rising to the challenge to meet this need.”
So as the Furnish-John family celebrates their own happy union, the EJAF is funding projects with leading LGBT-focused organizations, black-led organizations, and HIV and civil rights-focused groups, including: Human Rights Campaign, National Black Justice Coalition, Transgender Law Center, Point Foundation, Third Wave Fund, Racial Justice Action Center in Atlanta, FreeState Legal in Baltimore, Casa Ruby and the Wanda Alston Foundation in Washington DC, and the L.A. LGBT Center, Hetrick Martin, Queerocracy, JASMYN, University of Toronto International Human Rights Program, Friends for Life in Memphis, Positive Women's Network, Medical AIDS Outreach Selma Project, Desiree Alliance, Guiding Right in Oklahoma and Central Louisiana AIDS Support Services, ACLU National Prisons Project, Emory University's Center for the Health of Incarcerated People, the Center for HIV Law and Policy, and state-wide HIV policy coalitions in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina.
“We are extremely excited about the innovative work being undertaken by these grantees,” says Furnish, “and we are deeply grateful to all of our generous and loyal donors for supporting EJAF’s life-saving work.”