The Wedding Industry Impact

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a ruling overturning the federal portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a discriminatory federal law which prevents same-sex marriage from being recognized by both the federal government and individual states where it’s not legal. They also declined to rule on a case challenging Proposition 8, the discriminatory ballot initiative which banned same-sex marriage in California after 18,000 couples legally married. What does this mean?

Let’s start with Proposition 8. Because SCOTUS declined to issue a judgment, that means the previous ruling by the Court of Appeals goes into effect and same-sex marriage will return to California. Soon (date TBD, but in about a month) once again, same-sex couples can legally marry in California. Equality will be restored and the gay weddings can resume! Amazing. 

The other good news is that SCOTUS overturned the federal portion of DOMA. This does not mean that gay marriage is legal nationally. What it does mean is that same-sex marriage will be recognized by the federal government, giving same-sex couples who live in states where it's legal the 1100+ rights that married straight couples get, rights such as social security benefits, Family Medical Leave Act, tax benefits, and many more. 

Keep in mind that the state portion of DOMA was not challenged. This means that a same-sex couple from Texas who marry in New York will still not be seen as legally married by the state of Texas.  And each individual federal agency has their own standard of issuing benefits - some look at the Place of Residence (in  which case Texans, for example, would not get those benefits); and others look at Place of Celebration (in which case those Texans would).

There will surely be more gay weddings in California. And there will be more gay weddings in the states where it’s legal, states such as New York, Maryland and Washington. More same-sex couples from states where it’s not legal will travel to make it legal, just for those federal benefits (because some will apply). Some will bring a big group of family and friends and have their reception in the legal state, and some will simply elope and have their party at home. The wedding industry is going to benefit either way. 

 Because of the couples traveling to make it legal and spending their wedding dollars outside of their home state, there will be increased pressure on the states where it’s not legal to play catch up. After all, they are losing money. All of the studies of the economic impact of same-sex marriage, couple with these losses, will mean that states will start to legalize same-sex marriage at an exponential rate. 

Now, with all that said, get your business ready for gay weddings!  Our next webinar series starts next week and there are a few speaking engagements also coming up!  Drop a note if you're interested in bringing us in for a speech or workshop.

How to Plan a Gay Wedding

The Financial Times did a little profile on me recently - check it out below with the accompanying story
"Here comes the groom and groom."

What Chik-Fil-A Can Learn From Marriott

I'm sure everyone has been aware, by now, of the major Chik-Fil-A controversy here in the U.S.  Basically, the company has very conservative values and donates large sums of marriage to organizations that are anti-LGBT (not just marriage, but anti-LGBT basic civil rights).

This Business Week article is brilliant, as it interviews the Mormon CEO of Marriott, also a very conservative man, who does not let his personal beliefs affect his company's actions.

Check it out!

Same-Sex Marriage in Washington State

Washington State became the seventh U.S. state (plus D.C.) to legalize gay marriage on Monday when Governor Gregoire signed the marriage equality bill into law.  This is very exciting and you should definitely get your business ready. Opponents of marriage equality still may try to stop it from going into effect on June 7 - so the matter is not yet settled - but this is a huge step forward.  Go forth and prosper!

14 Stories in the Huffington Post

A few weeks ago, the Huffington Post invited me to be a new blogger on their site, which now has a weddings section.  I eagerly jumped at the opportunity and my first post appeared today!  I wrote about "what's the difference between a straight and a gay wedding?" because I'm literally asked that question all the time.  

Check out my thoughts on their site (and please leave a comment at the bottom of the post).

Civil Unions are Not Marriage

I read this yesterday on a blog: "my hometown Chicago, Illinois was approved for same sex marriages." 

The thing I want to clear up is that Illinois (and Hawaii and Delaware and New Jersey) actually wasn't approved for same-sex marriages.  Not at all. They approved civil unions.

Civil unions are great.  They are progress towards equal rights and protections for same-sex couples.  They have been around since 2000 when Vermont first created the institution of civil unions.  The thing about civil unions, though, is that they are a state law, meaning no access to the 1000+ federal benefits (ie. social security) that come with marriage.  They are essentially the same thing as statewide domestic partnership coverage, which is what states like California and Washington offer.  But they are a made-up term because politicians are afraid of using the term marriage, which many Americans are sensitive about and perceive as a religious institution.

In the UK and Ireland, there is a civil partnership law which offers all the rights of marriage.  Civil partnership is different from civil unions in one critical way:  it's a federal law with federal rights.  That means that it's not a county by county decision over there.  Civil partnership is still a made up term because politicians are afraid of using the term marriage - but the rights are federally issued.

Same-sex couples appreciate civil unions.  But they also know that they are a cop-out, made-up term and many hold out for the real deal:  marriage.  So will your business see a spike if you promote your services for couples seeking a civil union?  Absolutely.  Will the spike be as great as it would be if your state legalized marriage?  Absolutely not.

Those Who Work with Same-Sex Couples Must be Advocates

I blogged awhile back about how wedding planners who work with same-sex couples must be their advocates.  It's true and there's perfect proof in the case of wedding planner Kate Parker, based in New Hampshire, who is working with two grooms marrying this weekend.  Gay marriage is legal in New Hampshire and the state also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

A few things have come up with these guys:

1) They wanted to be married in an Episcopal church.  Episcopal churches only marry same-sex couples in one place in the United States, Eastern Massachusetts.  So the grooms had to find another officiant.

2) One of the grooms "came out" to his family via his wedding invitation.  Some family members had previously not known he was gay.

3) They wanted to run a wedding announcement in the local paper and were denied because the paper doesn't run same-sex wedding announcements.

4) One of the grooms is from Venezuela and can't get a green card through this marriage because of DOMA.

One wedding, four big issues that Kate and her team had to deal with, none of which would ever come up with a straight wedding.  So yes, planning a gay wedding is different and if you are a planner (or a venue, or caterer) and want to reach this market, you must be prepared to understand these issues and be your client's advocate.

Have you had any similar experiences when working with same-sex couples?

What Does the Ruling Against Prop 8 Mean for Your Wedding Business?

Proposition 8 was the ballot initiative in California in which voters voted to ban same-sex marriage, 5.5 months after it first began in the state in 2008.  18,000 same-sex couples were married in those 5.5 months.  There's been a highly publicized challenge to this voter referendum and that challenge was ruled on today, overturning the vote.

What does the California's judge's ruling against Proposition 8 mean for your wedding business?

Right now, it doesn't mean anything.  To be honest, while this is a big victory, this ruling will be appealed and the case is very likely to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.  A year or two before there's any final decision and even then, marriage equality victory is not guaranteed. This CNN article explains the next steps for Proposition 8.

I'm just being realistic.  In the meantime, there are lots of things you can do to prepare your business:

  • start volunteering for Equality California or whichever marriage equality organization exists in your state
  • neutralize the language on your website, marketing materials and contract materials
  • identify images and graphics which are less obviously bride-and-groom for your marketing materials
  • familiarize yourself with some gay wedding traditions
  • attend one of my upcoming workshops
Whether or not you live in California, these are just a few important steps that will help you get ready for what will be an eventual tidal wave of same-sex weddings.

Weekly Gay Marriage Roundup Vol 12

Though not directly related to gay marriage or gay weddings, President Obama's mandate this week provides a significant right to partners of gays and lesbians....read on....

In the U.S.:

Across the World:

Weekly Gay Marriage Roundup Vol 11

Iowa celebrated one year of gay marriage this week.  Read more on that story and some other gay marriage and wedding highlights from around the world.

In the U.S.