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5 Major Safety Tips for Wedding Planning – Or How to Avoid a Trip to the ER on Your Big Day

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

It’s important to plan a SAFE wedding. That sounds strange, right? But if you’ve seen some of the things I’ve seen — or even better, if you’ve happened to see some of the more dangerous wedding bloopers on YouTube, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Oh yes, wedding guests can end up in the hospital from stupid stunts. And sometimes it’s the brides or grooms who need stitches. Let’s try to avoid that, shall we?

The funny thing is that I know what’s safe and what’s not. I’ve planned hundreds of weddings of all different kinds and there’s not a whole lot that hasn’t happened while I was working with brides and grooms. Using this base of knowledge (often triggering PTSD about certain weddings), I advise my clients away from doing things or creating situations in which a member of the wedding party, a guest or the staff may be injured. And let’s not forget about the wedding venue itself — when things are damaged or broken, it costs the bride and groom a LOT of money.

At the risk of seeming like a killjoy, I’ve put together a list of the five safety issues I worry about most at weddings with the reasons I fear them and tips for ways to make them safer:

1) Don’t play with fire. Asian fire lanterns, specifically, have been all the rage for just over a year and they are a huge problem. I blame it on the episode of “Deadliest Catch” where they used them to freak out another boat, but there are pictures of them at weddings all over Pinterest and Instagram. They are not permitted at my weddings. Our venues don’t allow them, and in most places in the Caribbean, you’re breaking the law by setting something aflame that will land someplace an endangered species (like a baby turtle) might try to eat it. I don’t care how “environmentally friendly” they purport to be in their advertisements — nothing biodegrades immediately. Fuel cells assembled by tiny hands in China and sold to you for just a couple of dollars a pop cannot be made of the most earth-friendly materials. And almost everywhere you’re getting married, there’s a breeze.

While I’ve never permitted those lanterns to be released at any of my weddings (and I’ve had some throw-downs with well-meaning guests who brought them — the brides and grooms know they’re against the rules), I can tell you a couple of true stories about weddings that released them on our island. Or perhaps I should just interview the fire chief because he’s had to respond to the call almost every single time. You see, there’s usually a breeze off the water on an island like this. And most places in the world where you’d be having an outdoor wedding. That means these giant balls of fire go up, up and then back and over your head and over the wedding venue. Or onto it. Or across the yard and onto the roof of a neighbor. No bueno. The one that didn’t take off properly and created a full-on burning bush at the W Hotel is probably the funniest one I’ve seen video of, but really, it’s not funny. This is a tiny island with one fire house and putting flaming things into the air with no control about where they land is irresponsible and stupid. There are tons of YouTube videos about epic fire lantern fails and they’re all more scary than amusing. Many states and jurisdictions are banning them.

2) Fireworks must be carefully controlled. We ONLY have fireworks at weddings when we’ve hired a professional company to perform them, and we’ve gotten the permits and additional insurance riders for the property. NEVER let a well-meaning guest start shooting off bottle rockets or other over-the-counter fireworks at a wedding reception. Like the fire lanterns above, you don’t know where they’re going to land. Or who they may hit. It’s all fun and games until somebody takes a firework in the face. And then it’s a Medivac ride to the big island to find a good plastic surgeon. Sparklers are a workable alternative and we do special tunnels of them for wedding farewells on a somewhat regular basis. However, I must caution you that very, very drunk people are dangerous with those big long “wedding sparklers” that are so trendy and fun. They burn FOREVER and you can dance under them and get amazing photos, but we always have our staff strategically placed with buckets of water to take them out of partygoers’ hands the minute they die out. Seems grownups have forgotten what it feels like to step on a hot sparkler in bare feet on the beach. Ouch!

3) Swimming pools and open access to beaches must be controlled. Beaches are really only an issue if you’ve got small, not-well-supervised children roaming loose — so if you’re going to have kids at a waterfront wedding, you need to consider having babysitters on hand to keep them safe and corralled. Swimming pools are a far bigger menace. Start with the fact that you should NEVER have glass beverage-ware anywhere near a swimming pool because at every wedding, drunk guests drop their drinks while dancing. And half of them are barefoot. But that’s not the only concern.

Most beautiful villa swimming pools are not deep. That means that it’s completely insane for drunk wedding guests to attempt to dive, flip or push people into the pool during the party. But it happens. There’s no lifeguard on duty to yell “STOP RUNNING ON THE POOL DECK” or blow their whistle and order “NO DIVING!” But sometimes, I swear to God, I have to actually stop the music at a reception and take the microphone to make these sorts of announcements. I jokingly remind them our hospital isn’t equipped to handle traumas and that it would be a rotten way to remember the wedding, and most of the time, guests laughingly comply. But there have been exceptions to the rule — always because the guests are so inebriated that they’re out of control — and we’ve seen heads smacked on the side of the pool and other things that could have easily resulted in full paralysis if the idiot who did it hadn’t been so incredibly lucky. It’s fine for the wedding party and guests to get silly and jump in the pool if that’s what the bride and groom want to see at their wedding, but everybody has to be safe and behave like they would at a wedding so it doesn’t become an episode of “Guests Gone Wild.” Don’t be surprised to see bare butts and boobs on occasion when everyone takes the splash. Straight up – gay weddings tend to become the most outrageous!

4) Always use a sturdy platform for activities. Has anybody NOT seen the videos of various weddings on docks that collapsed midway through the ceremony? It happens several times a year. Sometimes they just get wet, other times there’s an ambulance involved after the disaster. Regardless, everyone is soaked and the rest of your wedding pictures are screwed. Especially if the photographer or videographer went in the drink along with your wedding party. You must be certain a wooden deck is strong enough to hold your guest load. I’ve had to tell clients they couldn’t have dance parties in certain venues or on certain decks many times because we don’t need an incident like all those porches that collapsed and killed people in Chicago a few years ago. That’s what I always envision. Any dance floor you’re building (in a yard or on a beach) must be sturdy and safe enough for the guests. If a vendor tells you something isn’t safe, don’t argue or try to get around it. They’d be happy to charge you for whatever the item is but they’re not willing to let you get hurt just to make a buck. Too much liability all around.

5) Chair dances at Jewish weddings can be treacherous. Done well, they’re awesome! But more couples are having interfaith marriages now than ever before and that means you don’t have a room full of Jewish men  who all know how to actually do the dance. There isn’t a wedding planner in the world who doesn’t inwardly cringe when the music for the Hora starts. Suddenly, you have a mix of really inebriated (Jewish and not) guys hoisting the brides and grooms (yes, now it’s sometimes two brides or two grooms) up into the air on chairs, usually very unsteadily. Most of the time, it’s done over a hard surface like a marble floor or concrete deck and if the brides or grooms fall, they will get hurt.

You have to plan it out. You must have gentlemen who are approximately the same height and strong enough for all four corners of each chair. And you have to pick out the chairs in advance and have them waiting on hand for the big moment. The most organized group of guys can’t keep the brides from landing on their butts if the chair collapses mid-lift. I’ve probably coordinated the chair dance 100 times now without significant incident but it still freaks me out completely til both halves of the couple are back on the ground safely.

I bet some of you think I’m a huge party pooper now that you’ve read this. Seems like I just want to take the fun out of everything, doesn’t it? But that’s not true. I want the wedding to be flawless and lots of fun. And there’s absolutely nothing fun about doing an emergency room run during the wedding. Especially when the injury is a result of something really dumb that could have easily been avoided.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events! And please stay safe!

Sandy Malone is an experienced destination wedding planner, a syndicated wedding columnist, and the self-proclaimed "Queen of Gay Wediquette"

Sandy Malone is an experienced destination wedding planner, a syndicated wedding columnist, and the self-proclaimed “Queen of Gay Wediquette”

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island.” Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), and Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm). Sandy has regular columns in The Huffington Post and BRIDES and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

As Marriage Equality Expands, the Gay Divorce Rate Is Increasing – And Happily Married Gay Couples Don’t Like It

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

When gay marriage was only legal in a very few places, gay divorce rates were very, very low. It made for lots of great news stories about how marriage equality would ultimately create more solid marriages nationwide, which have in recent history waivered at nearly 50 percent. Now that marriage equality has been enacted in so many different states, the statistics have started shifting. And happily-married gay couples are not at all pleased about it.

Frequently, former clients bring issues like this to my attention because they want to see the topic written about and the discussions that follow. In this particular case, a former client brought up the subject of the increase in gay divorces because it’s seriously bothering him.

While he and his husband have been happily married for several years, he has four sets of friends who haven’t been married very long and are currently in serious relationship trouble. Even in today’s society where marriage isn’t forever for so many people, it bothered him that he was close to four relatively-newly-married gay couples who are already getting divorced. That’s a lot of divorce in one social circle at one time.

“I think a lot are marrying for the vanity and to be the center of attention or for the party. Couples that only know each other a few months. You know the gays love a party,” he says. But he’s not joking despite his tone. He points out that gay icons Liz Taylor, Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli had 16 weddings between the three of them. Not the best examples to follow.

“They started to see other gay weddings and they looked like such fun, they wanted their own,” he opines. Next thing you know, couples who have only been together for a short period of time are getting legally married just because they can without giving enough consideration to what the word “marriage” means long term.

“I also don’t think the gays are co-mingling finances the way straights do, so divorce is easier on the financial front and the lack of children helps speed things along.” Basically, he says gay couples have fewer factors to consider when debating fixing or ending a relationship. It’s easier to get out of a gay marriage in most cases. That’s assuming they both still live in a state that acknowledges the legality of their marriage in the first place. When the state doesn’t recognize the union, there’s a whole new list of problems to encounter when splitting the blanket. But that’s a different blog.

He’s also concerned that gay men aren’t taking the vows of marriage as seriously as they should be. And he thinks it’s embarrassing to the marriage equality movement.

“One guy was telling me he was thinking of getting divorced while sitting on another guy’s lap,” was one example he cited. Notoriously “social,” some gay men have continued prior behaviors and not remained monogamous post-wedding ceremony. What was acceptable in the relationship before the wedding may no longer be okay with both partners once they’re wearing rings. This is a discussion to have before you say “I do.” While plenty of married couples (gay and straight) have “understandings” or “open marriages,” that’s something that has to be agreed upon by both partners before either one of them steps out on the other. Otherwise, it’s justified grounds for divorce.

Even more irritating to some is the fact that many single gay men appear not to understand that married gay men are off limits once they’ve gotten married. This problem with promoting infidelity is not new, according to my gay friends. In fact, more than one of them tell stories about gay friends who ask about their straight friends, only to be told “he’s married with three kids.” More often than not, my friends say the response is “So what?”

My lesbian friends and clients say infidelity isn’t their main problem but rather, finding a balance in a marriage and household is a constant stereotype struggle with both women wanting to be in charge. But we’ll come back to that.

When I first started planning and executing gay weddings years ago, the subject of divorce wasn’t even up for discussion. There were no statistics because it hadn’t been legal in enough places long enough to be analyzed. Even with the uptick in gay divorces, they’re still registering about half as many as straight divorces most places. But then again, most of the statistics reflect information about unions that have been legal for five years or less. While the success rate should be celebrated cautiously, it’s going to take another five years to learn whether there is truly a difference in marital longevity based on sexual preference.

The vast majority of my clients are committing themselves to each other here in the Caribbean, in full blown weddings or well-planned elopements, to signify that they are very serious about being married. Some of them went home and took legal steps to merge their lives in the same way a married couple would, just without the marriage license to go with it. Some got married legally if they could. Others were waiting for their home states to pass marriage equality.

Dwayne Byrum and Rodney Stroth became Mr. and Mr. on the beach in Vieques during the filming of TLC's "Wedding Island."

Dwayne Byrum and Rodney Stroth became Mr. and Mr. on the beach in Vieques during the filming of TLC’s “Wedding Island.”

Dwayne and Rodney Byrum were married on Vieques, Puerto Rico, on 12-12-12, the “last luckiest day of the century.” Afterward, they went home to Virginia and built their lives together. They waited patiently for their own state to legalize their union because, even though they could go across the bridge into Washington, DC, and get married, that legal union wouldn’t have been acknowledged just a few miles away at home.

Last summer, Virginia passed marriage equality and Dwayne and Rodney literally ran to the courthouse to get their marriage license. Just as quickly, the courts shut it down, and it wasn’t until months later when the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality in Virginia and a number of other states that they could actually get legally married. And they did. As quickly as they could before some little glitch made it impossible for them to get married, again. But the decision to get married wasn’t made in haste – it was something they’d been waiting almost two years to do. They didn’t need a big party to make it real – they’d already eloped in the Caribbean, on television.

After almost two years of patiently waiting, Dwayne and Rodney were married in Virginia as soon as they could.

After almost two years of patiently waiting, Dwayne and Rodney were married in Virginia as soon as they could.

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” Dwayne explains. “The LGBT community has fought for marriage equality rights for decades, now that we have it in the majority of the United States, as a community, we need to take these new rights seriously.”

“Marriage, as a whole, is a serious endeavor which not only opens equal rights and opportunities for LGBT’s, it also opens us up to the same legal responsibilities and ramifications as everyone else who enters into a marriage. Not enough thought is being put into that,” he says.

It makes me wonder if the whole process of planning a serious marriage ceremony rather than jumping on the marriage bandwagon just because it’s suddenly been legalized makes a big difference in the survival rate of the relationship. To the best of my knowledge, all of my gay and lesbian clients who have gotten married in Vieques are still together. I know for a fact that some are planning to have (or adopt) several children, making the same kind of long-term life plans as all of my clients who aren’t gay.

Perhaps the planning time for their destination weddings (and not every wedding is big – but it is thought out and coordinated) gives LGBT couples more time to consider the implications of the big move they’re going to make. And as all brides and grooms know, actually planning a wedding is stressful and how you handle those obstacles as a couple can be a real learning experience. If you can’t agree on who to invite, what to serve, the budget, or your vows, that’s a sign that you’re not necessarily ready to get married. Once you’re married, life’s problems are usually significantly more real and challenging. If you can’t plan a wedding together, odds are that you’re not going to survive married to each other for very long.

Yes, it’s depressing to think of it that way for me as a wedding planner, but that opinion isn’t restricted to gay and lesbian marriages. It’s just as true for straight couples getting ready to take the plunge. If you cannot agree on how to handle your families, where you’re going to be in five years, or your long-term goals in general, you’re not ready to get married regardless of your sexual preference.

“You need to be sure of your decision and reasons for getting married, and also look at all the implications of doing so,” Dwayne continues, and adds this list of important issues couples should consider before taking the formal step of saying “I do.” He also points out that not everything about getting married is glitter and rainbows.

1) How long has the couple considering marriage been together? Is the person you’re about to marry really and truly the person you want to grow old with? How well do you truly know your partner? 

2) Getting married (LGBT or straight) without having dependents or owning property together will cost you a fortune in taxes versus remaining single and staying a couple. It may be better to have legal documents drawn up to protect your rights instead of actually getting married. 

3) Most people enter a marriage with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, you do have to think about, “what if it doesn’t work out. What are the implications of getting a divorce?”

While digging on the Internet to learn more about the subject of gay divorce rates, I learned that, interestingly, the rate of lesbian divorce is consistently twice that of gay men in the vast majorities of countries that have legalized gay marriage, including the United States. It’s an interesting statistic to keep in mind. And probably whole other blog to write eventually.

Gay men told me that lesbian marriages deal with fewer infidelity challenges – they feel the culture of lesbian relationships, even in the dating realm, is more monogamous, and frankly, a little less slutty. However, the lesbians I talked to thought there were bigger issues at stake (although they didn’t disagree with the less infidelity assessment). Women face challenges just by being women, and some of those carry over into a marriage or civil union and result in a split.

“My personal take is that for some reason, one or both women feel the need to be extra ‘masculine’ whereas gay men, I feel, tend to be sooooo soft intellectually and romantically inclined and apologetic and sensitive,” explains Janelle Fitzgerald, a lesbian who is currently separated from her wife. She says a lot of her gay and lesbian friends agree with her assessment.

“My men-friend couples have longggg lasting relations and babies and families while we lesbians try our damnedest, but I swear we walk in with the chips stacked against us,” Janelle explains. It sounds like there’s a greater struggle for who takes the leadership role in lesbian marriages. Many women spend all day trying to bust through the glass ceiling and don’t seem to let go of that at home with their spouses. It’s not an uncommon problem in straight relationships either, but when both partners are fighting against the same demons, the challenge is double.

Although Janelle is still in a civil union with her wife, they’ve been separated for almost two years.

“I swear if that stubborn straight-man gene and the immaturity straight men seem to possess in spades were non-existent, or at least balanced, we’d have a fighting shot,” she says. And she jokes that unfortunately, “we can’t all marry gay men if we are lesbians can we…?”

There are lots of other statistical reasons that lesbian marriages would struggle more than gay ones – disparity of income being the biggest and most damning. I see it in my wedding planning business where very few lesbian couples spend even half as much money as gay men do on their wedding plans. It’s not because they’re cheap (in most cases), it’s because they face greater daily life financial challenges. DINK (double-income-no-kids) boosts the household of two men far higher than it does for two women. And more of the women getting married already have children. With money problems being the biggest cause of divorce across the board for all marriages, it makes perfect sense that this could be detrimental for two women trying to make a life together.

Whatever the cause of the increasing gay divorce rate, marriage equality advocates would like to see it stop. After spending years fighting for the right to get married, they don’t want hear that it’s not working. Of course, not every marriage lasts and not every couple is mean to be together “til death do us part” regardless of vows. But gay and lesbian couples rushing out to get married legally just because they can isn’t a good reason for so many marriages to fall apart.

When a couple decides to get engaged and then married, they need to take some time to consider all factors and make sure they’re ready for the next step. Gay or straight, marriage isn’t easy. Getting married might be easier for straight couples, but staying married is equally hard for everyone who has exchanged rings. Doing it for the wrong reasons – like because you’ve always been dying to plan your wedding and you never thought you would be able to – will only result in catastrophe long term. Every couple getting married is entitled to celebrate and have the party, but you don’t have to run down the aisle to have that. A slow walk will get you to the same destination, and you won’t feel confused and out of breath.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events!

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events. She married Dwayne and Rodney Byrum in a commitment ceremony on Vieques Island on her TLC reality show "Wedding Island" on 12-12-12

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events. She married Dwayne and Rodney Byrum in a commitment ceremony on Vieques Island on her TLC reality show “Wedding Island” on 12-12-12

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She is also the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a company that provides traditional planning services but also provides consulting services to DIY brides and groom all over the world.She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island.” Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 500 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), and Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm). Sandy has a regular columns on the Huffington Post and in BRIDES and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!

Federal Judge in Puerto Rico Upholds Marriage Equality Ban

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Puerto RicoA second Federal Judge has upheld a marriage equality ban (the first was in Louisiana).

LGBTQ Nation reports:

U.S. District Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez, cited Baker v. Nelson, a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld Minnesota’s ban on same-sex marriage, and said that allowing same-sex marriage raises the question of a constitutional right to polygamous and incestuous marriages. The case, Conde-Vidal v. Garcia-Padilla, was filed in March by Lambda Legal on behalf of five gay and lesbian couples and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, an organization that represents LGBT Puerto Ricans and their families.

Think Progress points out that the decision reads like a National Organization for Marriage press release:

Recent affirmances of same-gender marriage seem to suffer from a peculiar inability to recall the principles embodied in existing marriage law. Traditional marriage is “exclusively [an] opposite-sex institution . . . inextricably linked to procreation and biological kinship,” Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2718 (Alito, J., dissenting). Traditional marriage is the fundamental unit of the political order. And ultimately the very survival of the political order depends upon the procreative potential embodied in traditional marriage. Those are the well-tested, well-proven principles on which we have relied for centuries.

Lambda Legal plans to appeal:

“The court’s ruling directly conflicts with the wave of recent decisions finding these marriage bans unconstitutional and perpetuates the discrimination and harm done to same-sex Puerto Rican couples and their families,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. “It defies the unmistakable import of the Windsor decision and flies in the face of the blizzard of rulings of the last year, the reasoned rulings of the Courts of Appeals for the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th Circuits, and the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to let stand the rulings striking down five bans similar to Puerto Rico’s. One struggles to understand how this judge came to a different conclusion. We will, of course, appeal this ruling to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals,” Gonzalez-Pagan said. “All families in Puerto Rico need the protections of marriage.”

The Judge was apparently a democratic appointee.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Lambda Legal Files for Quick Overturn of Puerto Rico Marriage Equality Ban

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Puerto RicoLambda Legal is asking a District Court to overturn the territory’s ban on same sex marriage.

Joe.My.God reports:

Today in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, Lambda Legal filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to end the discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Lambda Legal joined the lawsuit, Conde v. Garcia Padilla, in June on behalf of five gay and lesbian couples and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, an organization that represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, said: “All families deserve to have their love and commitment recognized in Puerto Rico; they need the protections only marriage can provide as soon as possible, without discrimination. Every day that passes, our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender family members are told they are inferior to our other family members. They are living, working and caring for each other now and need the dignity and respect of marriage.”

Now it’s spreading out to the territories…

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Puerto Rico.

Jamaica Activist Ends Legal Challenge Against Anti-Sodomy Law

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

javed-jeghai-jamaicaA young activist who brought a challenge against Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law last year has withdrawn it because he is fearful of a violent backlash.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Last year, Javed Jaghai made headlines after initiating a constitutional court challenge to Jamaica’s 1864 law that bans sex between men. He argued that the anti-sodomy law fuels homophobia and violates a charter of human rights adopted in 2011 that guarantees people the right to privacy. But in an affidavit, Jaghai said he has been “threatened enough times to know that I am vulnerable.” The 25-year-old man believes his “loved ones are under threat” by intolerant people and the drawn-out court challenge is causing too much stress and anxiety. “Though the cause and the case are noble, I am no longer willing to gamble with my life or the lives of my parents and siblings,” Jaghai wrote in a statement withdrawing his Supreme Court claim.

It saddens me to see that someone seeking justice can be bullied into silence like this, especially by threats against his family.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

US Virgin Islands Marriage Equality Bill Introduced

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

USVI Senator Judi BuckleyThere’s some surprising movement on US Virgin Islands marriage equality this week.

Towleroad.com reports:

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

The Virgin Islands Daily News reports Senator Judi Buckley of the U.S. Virgin Islands has proposed a new bill that would allow people in the islands’ jurisdiction to marry. Until now there has been now proposal of such kind, but Buckley says this felt like the “right time” to introduce the bill, given the ongoing action on gay marriage in the U.S. The senator states that while she may not be still be in office by the time a decision is made on the bill (her term ends in 2015), she is happy to have started a conversation.

One step forward for equality in the Caribbean.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in the US Virgin Islands.

25K Rally in Support of Jamaica Anti-Gay Law

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Jamaica - Google Maps25,000 people attended a rally in support of the Jamaica anti-gay law.

Pink News reports:

Jamaican LGBT rights lawyer Maurice Tomlinson says last weekend’s rally in support of Jamaica’s buggery law was a “very frightening” moment. Mr Tomlinson, a legal advisor of marginalised groups at AIDS-Free World, referred to Sunday’s event by saying: “They really poured a lot of money into this, which to me is of great concern”. Participants and church leaders called on Jamaicans to stand up for “strong and healthy families” and “to resist the homosexual agenda”. The Jamaican Observer reports that police say an estimated 25,000 people took to the streets of Kingston for the protest organised by Churches Action Uniting Society for Emancipation (CAUSE).

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Image via Google Maps

Puerto Rico: Lawsuit Filed Against Marriage Equality Ban

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Puerto RicoThe US marriage equality movement is moving past the US red states and into the US territories.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A Puerto Rico attorney who married her longtime partner on the U.S. mainland has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have their marriage recognized in her home territory. The lawsuit comes as the debate on gay rights intensifies in Puerto Rico, where legislators and religious groups have recently clashed on several issues. The suit filed Tuesday by attorney Ada Conde challenges the constitutionality of Puerto Rican laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman, as well as those that prohibit same-sex marriage and the recognition of such marriages. Conde said she has been in a relationship for nearly 14 years with Ivonne Alvarez, an accountant and financial adviser whom she married in Massachusetts in August 2004.

Would a US Supreme Court decision cover Puerto Rico too? Would the case itself be appealed within the US court system?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Puerto Rico.

Cuba: Parliament Bans Workplace Discrimination Against Gays

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Cuba - Google Maps

Google Maps

Cuba, not known as the most progressive nation, is a step ahead of the US, having just banned workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Gay Star News reports:

The Caribbean island of Cuba has reportedly implemented workplace discrimination protections for its LGBTI citizens. Blogger Francisco Rodriguez, also known as Paquito El De Cuba, tweeted in Spanish on Friday: ‘Experienced a countless number of emotions today at the Parliament. We now have the first law that protects gays, in this case at the workplace. The intense parliamentary debate left it almost for certain that the labor law will also ban discrimination based on gender identity. Mariela Castro proposed banning discrimination based on gender identity and obtained the support of Christian and intellectual parliamentary leaders.’

We’re thrilled for Cuba’s LGBT citizens!!!

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

Bermuda: Hope Again for Marriage Equality

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Bermuda - Google Maps

from Google Maps

Premier Craig Connonier hinted at the possibility that marriage equality could be in Bermuda’s future.

Gay Star News reports:

But while Premier Craig Connonier has said it is not on the agenda as of yet, he hinted marriage equality could be in their future plans. ‘That was not on our agenda [for this legislative year] and for us, there has not been a lot of noise about moving in that direction,’ Cannonier told the Bermuda Sun. ‘We certainly made our decisions when it came to the Human Rights Act. And I can certainly go back and say our previous administration [the previous Progressive Labour Party government] had been fumbling with this thing for six years-plus.’

He added: ‘It’s a highlight for us within our first legislative agenda, we were able to get the Human Rights Act moved through. There can be no prejudice towards one another. That was a ridiculous stance this country had, and I know that the rest of the world was looking at us and saying, “When are we going to move forward?” But same sex marriage is not on the agenda. We will allow the interest groups to continue to lobby and look at it, but certainly it’s not on our agenda.’

It would be great to have more places in the Caribbean where it’s possible for same-sex couples to get married.

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