Fran Drescher Strives to Wed Gay Couples

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Fran Drescher, an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church Monastery, officiates the wedding of John Blair and Beto Sutter at the Out NYC in New York.

Fran Drescher, an ordained minister, officiating at the wedding of John Blair, left, and Beto Sutter at the Out NYC in New York.

Fran Drescher, an ordained minister, officiating at the wedding of John Blair, left, and Beto Sutter at the Out NYC in New York.

"People should be able to live as who they are.” - Fran Drescher

Until quite recently, Fran Drescher was known primarily for her comedic roles on television, including her latest in “Happily Divorced,” in which she plays a woman who learns that her husband is gay, divorces him, but then remains a close friend of the man.

The show is, in fact, a comedic turn on the arc of her own marriage to Peter Marc Jacobson — one that has inspired Ms. Drescher, 54, to become a minister so that she can legally join gay and lesbian couples in marriage.

“Well, you know I’d already married a gay man, so now I can marry a few gay men,” she said, quickly followed by her trademark laugh (which a writer in The Times once described as akin to “the sound of a Buick with an empty gas tank cold-cranking on a winter morning”).

To do so, Ms. Drescher, like Conan O’Brien, Kevin Smith and a slew of ordinary citizens before her, turned to the Web for near-instant ordination. In her case, it was the nondenominational Universal Life Church Monastery.

“You can get your minister’s license online — you can get anything online,” said Ms. Drescher, who has taken the additional step of registering her ministerial credentials with the New York City clerk’s office, so that she could join two gay couples at the Out NYC hotel on Tuesday, including John Blair and Beto Sutter, whose nightclub is in the hotel. (A report about the couple, who are depicted above, and their wedding appears on Page 18.)

“Even though I am Jewish, I take no offense at being a minister or called Rev. Drescher,” she said. “Love is love. I’m not a divisionist; I am a uniter.”

What kind of advice does she offer? “Don’t expect your partner to be everything you need in life,” she said. “Have other friendships to fill the voids. But if you have found someone who shares your values, be happy and be well.”

She apparently had no problems stepping into the role of officiant. “Giving orders comes naturally to Jewish women,” she said.

Of her relationship with Mr. Jacobson — whom she met at age 15 at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens, and later married, collaborated with on the development of “The Nanny” on CBS and then after about two decades divorced — she said, “We have been through a lot, but stay very close and still work on projects together.”

“We knew it was time for a change,” she said, adding that Mr. Jacobson is also a creator of her new show. "People should be able to live as who they are.”

In a related video interview with The Times, Ms. Drescher said: “Now that he’s living a more authentic life, we are once again the best of friends. And he’s not anywhere as annoying as he used to be.”

Ms. Dresher, a clotheshorse, dug deep into her closet for something to weart for Tuesday’s weddings, choosing a black gown to wear under a black robe with gold clips, one of the outfits she’d kept from her role in “This Is Spinal Tap,” the 1984 rock mockumentary, in which her character, a Polymer Records executive, complains about an album cover depicting a naked woman in a dog collar, sniffing a leather glove. “I thought the black on black would look official yet elegant,” she said.

In the video interview, Ms. Drescher says that she’s taking her new role as a minister, one currently specializing in same-sex marriages, seriously. “I think that love transcends ethnicity, gender, political boundaries and religion. If anyone turns love between two consenting adults into a negative, I don’t think they understand the meaning of the word.”

She also said that she’s looking to “take my celebrity and leverage it,” eventually marrying same-sex couples in every state. “And if things don’t work out in my career, I can always open up a little chapel in Vegas.”

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Linda Marx