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USA, Tennessee: Another State Considers “Right to Discriminate” Bill

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Tennessee State Capitol

Apple Maps

Yet another state is joining the growing legion that seeks to empower anti gay wedding vendors and others to discriminate against same sex couples without fear of recrimination.

Dot429 reports:

Senator Brian Kelsey has just introduced a bill to the Tennessee State Legislature that would allow any business or individual to legally discriminate against the LGBT community. The text of Tennessee Senate Bill 2566 states that it “permits persons and religious or denominational organizations, based on sincere religious belief, to refuse to provide services or goods in furtherance of a civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage not recognized by the Tennessee Constitution.” Unlike similar legislation in Kansas, the Tennessee bill doesn’t seem to allow the refusal of service simply because an employee doesn’t agree with a potential customer’s orientation or gender presentation, but opponents of the bill still object to the bill’s intent of legalizing a type of discrimination.

Meanwhile, The Washington Blade looks at this growing movement.

Meanwhile, at the state level, new initiatives are emerging to establish carve-outs to civil rights and marriage equality laws to enable individuals or businesses to discriminate against LGBT people and their marriages on religious grounds. One such initiative underway in Oregon is concurrent with Oregon United for Marriage’s work to bring the issue of marriage equality to voters on Election Day this year. Anti-gay groups are working to place on the ballot at the same time a measure to allow florists, bakers and other businesses to refuse to participate in these weddings on religious grounds.

So who is shopping these bills around to all the red state legislatures? Anyone have any intel?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA, Kansas: House Passes Bill to Allow Discrimination Against Gays

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

KansasThe House in Kansas passed the “Right to Discriminate” bill yesterday that would allow businesses to legally discriminate against same sex couples.

On Top Magazine reports:

Kansas State Rep. Charles Macheers’ bill (HB 2453) cleared the House with a 72-49 vote. The measure would allow individuals, businesses and religious groups with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to refuse to provide services, facilities, goods, employment or employment benefits related to the marriage, civil union, domestic partnership or “similar arrangement” of a gay or lesbian couple. “[N]o refusal by an individual or religious entity to engage in any activity described in section 1 … shall result in … A civil claim or cause of action under state or local law based upon such refusal,” the bill states.

It’s blatant discrimination, and will be overturned in the courts if it makes it into law. The bill now goes to the Senate, where there are 31 Republicans and 9 Democrats.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Kansas.

USA, Kansas: Right to Discriminate Bill Advances, Full House Vote Today

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

KansasA bill that would enshrine in state law the right to discriminate against same sex couples advanced yesterday in the House.

CJ Online reports:

The legislation that was debated for about two hours in the GOP-led House was characterized by advocates as an essential shield from government sanctions for anyone refusing to violate sincerely held religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage. The bill advanced to final action Wednesday on a vote of 72-42. Democrats and other critics framed the bill as a discriminatory strike against Kansans in anticipation federal courts might overturn state bans — including Kansas’ — on the definition of legal marriage of anyone other than a man and a woman. “The bill is narrowly tailored to a small number of folks,” said Rep. Charles Macheers, a Shawnee Republican championing House Bill 2453. “It’s on the right side of history.”

I mean, seriously, don’t these folks have anything more important to do? You gotta wonder when the top of an elected official’s to-do list is “ok discrimination against gays”.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Kansas.

USA, Iowa/Texas: Wedding Vendors Turn Away Gay Couples

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

A couple stories in this morning about discrimination against gay couples. The first one is out of Iowa – Think Progress reports:

Iowa Gay Couple

The Gortz House, a gallery and bistro just outside Des Moines, Iowa, has informed a gay couple that they are not welcome to host their wedding there. The business advertises itself as “the perfect venue for your wedding ceremony,” but that was apparently not the case for Lee Stafford and his fiance, Jared. Stafford informed KCCI-TV that they were turned away, and owner Betty Odgaard explained that she felt her religious preferences took precedent over obeying state law: ODGAARD: That decision was based on our religious beliefs. We want to honor that. We want people to know that is our stand that comes from our faith and convictions. I think we should just stand by that no matter what… Can I have my beliefs without being ostracized for that? I think that I have my right too, to stand firm to my convictions and beliefs.

Would those same beliefs be acceptable if applied against a biracial couple?

Our second story comes out of El Paso, Texas, via Queerty:

Texas Gay Couple

Monico Ramirez and Jonathan Luna (pictured) are engaged and looking for the perfect place to host their wedding reception and thought they’d found it at Grace Gardens, a popular venue for events in El Paso, except for their pesky “no gays allowed” policy. Ramirez said his and Luna’s visit was going smoothly, they were looking over contract details with an employee, but when informed that the reception was for the two men. “She just looked at us weird,” Ramirez said. “She took us to a lobby, and told us she had to go speak with a manager, we stayed there 15 minutes. She came out and said ‘I’m sorry guys, but we are not allowed to have any services for same-sex marriage.'”

A representative for the facility claims that the couple lied about the wedding and wanted to hold a “wild party with strippers”. A case of he and he said vs. she said?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Iowa.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.

Purple Unions Gay Wedding Directory Interviewed for Two Southern California Newspapers

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Purple UnionsIt’s been a whirlwind three days – not only have we been swamped reporting on the historic US Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality and all the resulting changes and new energy given to gay marriage movements in the US and worldwide, but our directory of gay friendly wedding vendors, Purple Unions, has seen a huge surge in new vendor listings, especially from California.

We’ve also been interviewed by several LA and San Diego papers and journalists, as well as by the local NPR station.

Over at San Diego’s Union Tribune, they have an article on the impact of the rulings on local wedding vendors:

County officials say they are already receiving about 500 calls per day about same-sex marriage licenses, even though the first ones won’t be issued for about 25 days. That’s not surprising given the estimated 37,000 California same-sex couples expected to wed over the next three years, according to a think tank affiliated with UCLA Law. Coupled with an additional 48,000 out-of-state gay couples forecasted to come to California to marry, wedding-related businesses can expect to reap some $492 million in new revenues, says the Williams Institute, which focuses on LGTB legal and policy issues.

From our interview with the Union Tribune:

Purple Unions co-founder Mark D. Guzman said his online gay and lesbian wedding directory has seen explosive growth since Wednesday, with hundreds of vendors, many from San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, placing orders to be listed… “I think a lot of vendors are thinking to themselves ‘Now is my time to get out there and do what I do best for gay couples,’” Guzman said.

From our interview with the OC register:

The gay community loves a party, said Mark D. Guzman and J. Scott Coatsworth, who were married in 2008. They run Purple Unions, an online directory of gay and gay-friendly wedding vendors based in El Dorado Hills. Weddings have been among the biggest celebrations for straight couples. Now, it’s the gay and lesbian community’s turn. “If they can afford to do so, there’s no expense spared,” Guzman said. “Mind you, many would still like a small, intimate affair. But if someone who’s gay wants to do it big, it’s going be big.”

If you’re looking for gay friendly wedding vendors, we’ve got bunches of them, and if you know any, please send them our way.

Maryland, USA: Wedding Vendors See Dollar Signs in Same Sex Weddings

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Hundred Dollar BillsThe Baltimore Sun covers the emerging trend of gay wedding shows, and the financial windfal same sex weddings can bring to the wedding industry:

The financial motivation was on display Sunday at the second annual Gay and Lesbian Wedding Expo at the Tremont Suites Hotel & Grand Historic Venue in downtown Baltimore, where dozens of vendors competed for the attention of dozens of couples whose weddings now carry the official blessing of the state of Maryland. The event was sponsored by

The (literal) money quote from the article:

Over three years, the institute predicted, weddings by resident Maryland couples alone will generate between $40 million and $64 million for the state economy, and $2.5 million to $4 million in new sales and lodging tax revenues. Those figures didn’t factor in any out-of-state couples that might travel to Maryland to get hitched, the institute noted.

That’s a lot of money, especially for an economy recovering from a recession. Your thoughts, Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Hawaii?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Maryland.

Colorado, USA: GOP Missed Out on Chance for Civil Unions Compromise; ADF Now Complains About Bill

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

ColoradoDominic Dezzutti makes an interesting point over at CBS Denver – that the GOP may have missed the boat on crafting a civil unions compromise more friendly to religious wedding vendors by pursuing an all-or-nothing strategy in 2012:

To some die hard social conservatives, the GOP leaders that stopped the Civil Unions bill from passing in 2012 and in previous legislative sessions may have seemed heroic. However, an examination of this year’s version of the Civil Unions bill, the one that will become law very soon, will show that for social conservative viewpoints, those same GOP leaders, by refusing to compromise sooner, sold them down the river.

His point:

My point is that if GOP leaders could have been more savvy about the inevitability of Civil Unions, they could have worked harder to pass a version of the bill with amendments that they would have liked to have seen, rather than sticking to their guns and seeing a version of the bill that they dislike on many levels get rammed straight down their throats this year.

In uncannily related news, Arizona’s Alliance Defense Fnd, a legal group set up solely to fight gay rights and marriage equality in court around the world, is complaining that the bill doesn’t protect Christians – something they could have had in the bill if they had come to the table in 2012. Oh the irony. From On Top Magazine:

The measure “proposes nothing to ensure that the government does not penalize, withhold benefits from, or refuse to contract with clergy, a religious institution, or a religious organization, not to mention individuals and businesses that possess sincere religious beliefs about sexual unions and/or the importance of both mothers and fathers to families,” Fiedorek said.

Better luck next time.

Illinois, USA: Marriage Equality Could Mean Boom for Wedding Vendors

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Stance Against Marriage Equality is Outdated and WrongAt a Tinley Park wedding show in early January, Creative Cakes bakery raffled off a wedding cake valued at $750. Jim Hickey and David Blatzheim won. “It’s a huge savings,” Blatzheim said.

The Evergreen Park couple are in the throes of planning an elaborate ceremony and reception to celebrate their civil union. Some 130 guests will be invited to the Chateau Bu-Sche in Alsip for the October event.

If Illinois’ proposed marriage law passes in the meantime, Blatzheim said, things will continue according to plan, but they may tweak the text on their ceremony programs. “We’re calling it a wedding, regardless,” Blatzheim said.

Authored By Donna Vickroy – See the Full Story at the Sun Times

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Illinois.

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Maine, USA: Bethel Businesses Hope For Wedding Boost From Marriage Equality

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Bethel, Maine Businesses Hope For Wedding Boost From Marriage EqualityIt didn’t take long after Maine voters approved same-sex marriage Nov. 6 for the economic effect to be felt in the Bethel area.

“I am already working with a couple of guys that have been partners for 40 years and are planning a wedding next summer at their camp on the lake in Waterford,” said Steve Etheridge, owner of Rooster’s Roadhouse in Bethel.

“They are looking for locations for a small wedding reception, and have asked Rooster’s to put a proposal together for them. There is no question in my mind that this opens an entirely new market for the restaurant and hospitality-related businesses, and we welcome the opportunities.”

Authored By Alison Aloisio – See the Full Story at the Sun Journal

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Maine.

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NH: House Votes Down Bill to Allow Wedding Vendors to Reject Gay Couples

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

New Hampshire Wedding Vendors and Conscience BillThe New Hampshire House on Wednesday voted down a bill which would have permitted wedding providers to refuse gay and lesbian couples. Lawmakers overwhelming rejected the bill with a 246-85 vote, the AP reported.

The measure sought to allow business owners to withhold wedding-related goods and services if they believe it would violate their conscience or religious faith. While the bill does not specifically list gay couples, a January hearing on the bill made it clear they were being targeted.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jerry Bergevin, a Republican from Manchester, has previously said that his bill “would hardly have any effect on same-sex marriage in New Hampshire, as there are many businesses in New Hampshire.”

Full Story from On Top Magazine

Click here for gay wedding resources in New Hampshire.

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