After discovering that the sky didn't fall in one year of civil unions, the state of Delaware went full in for marriage equality. The law goes into effect on July 1 and existing civil unions will convert to marriage. Love this marriage equality momentum!
I'm happy about this for two reasons: 1) because civil unions protect LGBT families, period. And 2) because civil unions pave the way for full marriage equality (see Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and hopefully soon Illinois and Delaware).
As you know, our company was founded in New England and we still have a Boston office. We are proud that now, all 7 New England states support marriage equality! Welcome, Rhode Island - we can't wait to start planning some amazing Newport gay and lesbian weddings. Newport is one of the most beautiful and charming cities in the U.S. and has some absolutely beautiful wedding venues, such as Bel Mer. Bring on the Newport gay weddings! We can't wait. Congratulations to the LGBT couples of Rhode Island.
Many of you are probably on the edge of your seat this week as the U.S. Supreme Court hears two marriage equality cases, one affecting Proposition 8 in California which banned marriage equality there, and the other affecting the horrific DOMA law signed by President Clinton in 1996.
I've been doing a bunch of interviews about marriage equality and the business of gay weddings and am really excited about this week. Jen, Patrick and I attended a rally tonight, wore red and although we couldn't make it down to D.C., I've been as inspired as I was back in 2004 when I founded 14 Stories.
This is a top secret photo from back in the day...circa 2004 or so! Not the most flattering photo of me but it was amazing to be a part of history in the making, just as it is in 2013!
If you're in the wedding industry, you may have caught the story floating around Facebook and Twitter about Anne Almasy, the wedding photographer from Atlanta who bought an ad in Weddings Unveiled magazine, only to have that ad rejected because it showed a photo of two brides. Not one bride. Not a bride and a groom. But two brides, marrying each other.
I hate that this happened and that Anne Almasy had to have those conversations with the magazine. But I love this happened and I love that Anne Almasy had to have those conversations. Because, she, a straight women, wrote a fantastic blog post on what happened and her reaction and the comments and shares are starting a much needed dialogue in the wedding industry.
A friend of mine asked me, "Aren't there other publications who would be happy to advertise to the gay community?" And, you know, yes, I'm quite sure there are. But I chose Weddings Unveiled because I'm not trying to advertise to "the gay community." I'm advertising to couples who are getting married. This couple didn't get "gay married." They didn't have a "gay wedding." They got married. They had a wedding. They share their lives, their joys and sorrows, and all the mundane daily things that we all share with our partners. They are just people. In love. Committed to one another.
And that blog post is getting a lot of attention and shining light on this issue. Yes, the wedding industry is evolving to be more LGBT-inclusive. But we also have a very long way to go. Weddings Unveiled brought to light one of the most common questions I'm asked during my LGBT wedding trainings for wedding professionals: how do I market to same-sex couples without alienating my straight audience?
This is a legitimate fear that many in the wedding industry have. Clearly Weddings Unveiled is afraid of alienating their straight audience. They have a business. I get it. But the millennial generation, the majority of those planning weddings, overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage. In one study, 68% of American millennials support same-sex marriage. Still, there are examples of businesses that would rather not support these fabulous gay weddings. There's the bakery in Oregon that refused a wedding cake to a lesbian couple. There's the transportation company in Maryland that decided not to service ANY weddings rather than complying with the state requirement that they now service same-sex weddings. There's the venue in upstate New York that told a lesbian couple to go elsewhere. And so on.
Many other businesses suddenly get all booked up when they realize they're talking to same-sex couple. Others don't return calls and e-mails regarding gay weddings. This stuff happens all the time and I'm thrilled to see some press about it. And I'm also pleased with how Weddings Unveiled quickly and sincerely responded: The issue is very sensitive and it is also very divided. We knew that it was possible that people would be offended if we published the ad and we knew that it was possible that people would be offended if we did not. We are so sorry that we acted out of fear and uncertainty. We had never been faced with such a decision and we should have acted with our hearts.
Because as Anne so beautifully said to Weddings Unveiled, "I hope you will see it through the eyes of history, for surely someday very soon your decision will seem archaic and absurd."
Like many LGBT folks, I've been following the two marriage equality-related court cases which have made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court and which will be heard this spring.
I'm Vice-Chair of the Family Equality Council event, Night at the Pier, and we recently voted to honor Roberta Kaplan at this fantastic event. Roberta Kaplan is the attorney arguing the Windsor vs. the United States case being heard by the Supreme Court in a few months.
And last night, I finally watched the documentary about the amazing lesbian couple behind this case...I highly recommend Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement. It's on Netflix. It's a beautiful love story of two women, together 42 years before legally marrying in Canada. It's only a hour long - you should definitely check it out!
Such a powerful message today when President Obama became the very first president to mention the LGBT community in his inauguration address.
So, there's good news and there's bad news...civil unions were just signed into law in Rhode Island, effective July 1, 2011. How can this possibly be bad? I mean, think of all those Newport gay weddings (and civil unions)!
Well, the only way the bill passed was if it included the right for religious institutions to not recognize a civil union. This basically legalizes discrimination by religious institutions. The law of course gives a church the right to say, "We won't perform a gay wedding here" (which is totally fine if they so choose). But it also allows religious institutions to deny other services to same-sex couples, such as adoptions, social services, funerals and so forth.
I have mixed feelings about this, as much as I would LOVE to help gay couples have a beautiful wedding in Newport (and other parts of Rhode Island). I don't mind some religious exceptions but these ones seem particularly extreme.
Are you going to plan a Rhode Island gay wedding or civil union now that it's legal?
(photo by Kristin Spencer)
Yesterday, the Proposition 1 ballot initiative passed in North Carolina. I can honestly say that I was in tears. Our company has worked with dozens of couples from North Carolina over the years, including one of our 5/15/12 weddings and one of our 5/19/12 weddings. Two couples this month, from (yet another) state which treats them as second-class citizens.
The passage of this proposition forbids those kind, loving couples from equal marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships and every other "family" construct. The way the amendment was written was truly horrifying.
I honestly try to focus this blog on the "how to..." elements of wedding planning, but the truth is that 14 Stories is an activist-type company. We care about the laws. We only plan legal weddings. We provide every couple we meet with a list of resources that can help them protect their families. The reality is, for LGBT couples, marriage is not enough.
14 Stories is paid to plan beautiful weddings, and I love that. But we have gone through the process of planning our own wedding, having some family support and some not, having to hire a lawyer for all this extra paperwork, the same stuff that every LGBT couple must face. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of what makes LGBT weddings different.
I love working with couples who give a damn, LGBT couples for whom this stuff is important, who don't take equal marriage rights for granted and who want to make some slight political statement with their marriage ceremony (and if you don't know how, we have ideas...)
Even if you live in a big city (like we do) with many LGBT friends (like we have), please don't take whatever rights you have for granted. We have to keep fighting because, in most of the world, our LGBT brothers and sisters have no rights. Even in states like California and Florida with "gay mecca" cities, LGBT couples have very limited rights.
Your marriage and wedding is important, of course, but please, above all, protect your family. Please contact us if you need resources in your area for financial planners, estate planning attorneys, insurance agents and other professionals who can help protect your family.
And please, along with us, keep up the good fight. It's not just about the wedding.
- Marc and Joey at the Mondrian Hotel
- Michael and Greg's Wedding at 632 on Hudson
- How to Get Married in...
- Your Parents and Your Same-Sex Wedding
- Delaware Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
- Scouting the Field - Great Venues in NYC for a Gay Wedding
- Civil Unions are Legal in Colorado
- Family Equality Night at the Pier Fundraiser
- Rhode Island Legalizes Gay Marriage
- How to Plan a Gay Wedding
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