Do we still need “gay weddings?”
It’s been seven months since the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. But as America’s checkered past with equality illustrates, acceptance is often slow to follow the letter of the law. If we look at the American experience of African-Americans, Latinos, women, and other minorities, there is no doubt that while legal protections are in place, forms of discrimination are still in practice.
Piece submitted and written by Eric Hause, President, Weddings with Pride
Similarly, the LGBT community’s fight for equality is in some ways just beginning. Religious protection initiatives and associated lawsuits are popping up across the country as those who object to our rights make one last attempt to abridge them.
A pressing current issue is a bill (SB 40) introduced in the Virginia General Assembly by Senator Charles Carrico that would create a “conscience clause” stating that a Virginia clerk or deputy clerk shall not be required to issue a marriage license if they have a personal, ethical, moral, or religious objection. On the federal level, the current lack of legislation defining sexual orientation as a protected class in the workplace is the most glaring example. While 22 states have passed legislation that prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, most states have not. So while homosexual couples can get married in all fifty states, they can also get fired for simply being gay. Married on Saturday, fired on Monday is a well-worn mantra in the gay community.
LGBT fair housing laws are also sadly lacking. While 21 states and a patchwork of municipalities ban housing discrimination, the Federal Fair Housing Act does not address the issue. The Supreme Court may very well find that there is a constitutional right to marry, but such a ruling would do nothing to prevent landlords from denying newlyweds housing in the 29 states where this type of discrimination remains legal.
Earlier this year, the Equality Act was introduced in Congress to rectify these issues. But even if it passes, it doesn’t address what former Attorney General Eric Holder referred to as subtle discrimination. “The greatest threats,” he said, “do not announce themselves in screaming headlines. They are more subtle. They cut deeper.”
The LGBT community is all too familiar with this form of discrimination. It’s the infrequent but hurtful look of disapproval, the curious lack of service, or an unexplainable “no” from individuals, organizations, and businesses that quietly refuse to accommodate our community.
While an overwhelming majority of wedding vendors fully embrace marriage equality, the familiar stories of those who aren’t so welcoming give same-sex couples pause. As they navigate the already-stressful new frontier of wedding planning, the last thing they want is to encounter the quiet “no”. Fortunately, we’ve discovered that most couples are aware of that possibility and approaching the task as savvy consumers.
Weddings with Pride has surveyed over 600 local same sex couples since October 2014 and asked how they go about finding wedding vendors in an industry that is heavily skewed towards traditional marriage. One of the most surprising findings is that 84% of them indicated they look for LGBT-positive language in the marketing language, photos, and reviews. In addition, 76% indicate that their first preference when hiring a vendor is one that is gay-owned or operated, or one with same-sex wedding experience.
Until the new definition of marriage has time to permeate the American psyche—which may take years—LGBT couples will seek out equality-minded wedding professionals first. Providing them with the resources to do so is the next step in moving marriage equality forward to the point where the “gay” distinction is dropped, and we simply celebrate weddings.
Learn more about LGBTQ, check out Wedding’s with Pride’s event this weekend, Saturday, January 30, 2016 in Norfolk.
Events scheduled from 9:00 AM until 11:00 PM at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel • 777 Waterside Dr. • Norfolk, VA 23510
New Study: large majority of Americans support LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws, oppose ‘bathroom bills’
Support for LGBT rights and religious inclusion has expanded drastically over the past decadeAugust 26, 2016
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