Special Events
Bans on Same-sex Marriage Gaining

Bans on Same-sex Marriage Gaining

Voters passed bans on same-sex marriage in Arizona and Florida in yesterday's elections, and while the tally is not yet final, proponents of a ban in California hold a narrow lead. The contest in California--the ban contained in Proposition 8--has been the most expensive social-issues campaign in U.S. history, with spending pro and con at $74 million. The battle's price tag is second only to the race for the White House.

Many California wedding professionals saw a rush of interest from same-sex couples in May, when the state Supreme Court ruled that such unions were legal. When county offices began issuing licenses to all couples on June 17, San Diego-based TK&A Custom Catering saw a “100 percent increase” in calls from same-sex couples looking into wedding receptions, notes CEO Lisa Richards.

Some event pros began actively pursuing the same-sex marriage market. The Fairmont San Francisco debuted its “Love is Proud” wedding and honeymoon packages. The hotel donates 10 percent of revenue from same-sex weddings at the property to the Academy of Friends, a local organization benefiting AIDS/HIV charities in the Bay Area.

Sister property the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn launched its “Green and Gay” program, which offers environmentally friendly same-sex weddings including options such as invitations printed on recycled paper using soy inks, menus featuring local organic food and guest transportation via hybrid vehicles.

ALREADY COMMITTING

Although bans will likely put a damper on additional event business tied to same-sex weddings, some event pros question whether same-sex weddings would ever bring a landslide of clients.

Already, commitment ceremonies between same-sex couples have been popular for a decade, Sheldon Sloan, partner and sales director with South San Francisco-based Melons Catering and Events, told Special Events this summer.

Further, the same-sex wedding market has meant incremental rather than monumental business in other markets where the unions are legal.

Mary Crothers, head of Toronto-based event rental company Chair-Man Mills, tells Special Events that same-sex weddings have increased her business by 5 percent since Canada approved the unions three years ago, a figure that has remained constant.

Same-sex marriage remains legal in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Photo by iStockphoto.com/ © Sandra O'Claire

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