Among all the furor over the Federal case against Proposition 8 in California, there have been a few stories about how wedding vendors have been affected, and what might happen if and when Prop 8 is finally done away with.
There are also several online wedding directories out there who are eager for the resolution of this case, not just because of the bottom line, but because they truly desire to see the cause of marriage equality advance for themselves, their friends and family, and their community.
We’ll cover a couple here – Kathryn Hamm at GayWeddings.com and our own PurpleUnions.com:
How did your site get started?
GayWeddings: My straight mom founded our business back in 1999 when she couldn’t find any products for my wedding to my partner. She had assumed that “everything had already been invented” and was stunned when she went to her local gay bookstore (in Dallas) and the clerk said that not only did they not have any gay wedding albums, but they hadn’t ever heard of a product like that for two brides or two grooms. This inspired her to open our pioneering boutiques: TwoBrides.com & TwoGrooms.com. In 2005, we acquired GayWeddings.com and this allowed us to expand our offerings to include more planning resources, a forum, a gay-friendly
directory, our blog, and, of course, our boutique.
PurpleUnions: We started our travel directory, PurpleRoofs.com, in 1997, when we realized that there were few good, comprehensive, up-to-date travel resources online for the LGBT community. A number of our innkeepers also hosted weddings, and so in July of 2003, we created PurpleUnions.com – it seemed like a natural outgrowth of what we were already doing, and it was also something that we cared about passionately and personally.
How did you guys become involved in the marriage equality movement?
GayWeddings: In a sense, my family has been involved ever since my partner and I declared in 1995 that we wanted to have a ceremony and as we have learned (in some cases the hard way) about the rights and benefits which we, as an unmarried couple, cannot access. And, certainly, as my mom launched the business, our business vision to educate others about this underserved market and the need for partnership rights and marriage equality rights. In fact, my mom has even lobbied on the Hill and tells a classic story of meeting with a conservative Congressman from Texas (her home state) and telling him that he should change his policy because marriage equality “isn’t a matter of if; it’s a matter of when!”
Purple Unions: It’s been a long evolution. Scott attended his first commitment ceremony around 1989, when a friend and his partner exchanged rings and vows in a private, informal ceremony in the bamboo forest at the Huntington Gardens. I remember how secretive it was – we found a private spot, and the rest of us (three friends) hovered protectively around the lucky couple to keep out the rest of the world. When the two of us met, in 1992, the idea of marriage equality still seemed like a far-off fantasy. But shortly thereafter, Clinton was elected, and it seemed like a new day had dawned. We all know how that went. But the fires were rekindled in 2004, when Gavin Newsom stood up for us and asked why we shouldn’t be allowed to marry like everyone else. We started a new section of the site – 7,000 Strong (referring to the approximate number of gay and lesbian couples known to be married at that time) – tp tell the stories of our lives. We were married on March 11th, 2004, in San Francisco’s City Hall, a magical moment for us and our relationship. And when our marriage was subsequently struck down by the state Supreme Court later that year, two marriage equality activists were born.
What does the site have to offer (features, etc)?
GayWeddings: Our site offers a wide range of planning resources and specialty products. Couples can enjoy free Wed Pages to announce their engagements/weddings; can participate in forum discussions; can access planning articles, tips & news alerts; and, can locate gay-friendly vendors in our directory. We also offer consultation services (via phone or in person for those couples in the Metro DC area). Our boutique, as always, has offered a wide-range of products including invitations, cake tops, wedding albums and guestbooks, rings, specialty gifts, and more.
PurpleUnions: Our main focus is our vendor directory. We list more than 1,000 wedding vendors – photographers, officiants, planners, florists, wedding venues and much more – in more than twenty countries/regions around the world, and we’re constantly adding more. We also have a gay marriage blog, with news from around the world every day about same sex marriage, civil unions, LGBT rights, and anything else we can find related to the fight for marriage Equality.
What are you doing to help further marriage equality?
GayWeddings: Everything that we do furthers marriage equality. I’ve always said that gay and lesbian weddings are transformative. One cannot help but be transformed when witnessing the love and commitment exchanged by a couple during a ceremony. And, once folks understand what same sex relationships are all about, it becomes more difficult for them to vote against legislation which supports marriage equality. In a sense, as Gloria Steinham has said, the personal is political, and this is very true for the GLBT community. Once people know us and understand who we are, we are no longer a nameless, faceless wedge issue. Additionally, we work hard to educate vendors and manufacturers about the same sex wedding market. We have spent many years lobbying and educating suppliers in order to bring more gay-friendly products to market and we have countless conversations with vendors about shaping the ‘face’ of their business to be more inclusive — for ALL brides & grooms. Finally, whenever possible, we lobby legislators and friends & family to help them better understand marriage equality and why these rights matter for us.
PurpleUnions: Just the existence of directories like ours helps further the cause of marriage equality – they make people reconsider their long-held beliefs about what marriage is and what marriage should be. But in addition, we run this blog which allows us to both keep on top of and to share everything going on around the world on this issue – a clearinghouse for the day’s news about gay marriage. Every day, we post summaries and links for 8-10 stories about marriage equality – we’re following developments at the moment in Mexico, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, the UK, Latin America, and a number of other places. We also research and maintain an event calendar that shows, at any given time, between 50 and 150 upcoming rallies, meetings, wedding expos, phonebanks, and other events related to marriage equality. Our blog is accessible via Google News, Facebook, and Twitter, and we’re working on new partnerships to help get the word out. Marriage Equality is a fight our community needs to win.
For more information about these directories, visit GayWeddings.com and PurpleUnions.com