Wedding plans, legal concerns as same-sex marriages start this week
With Minnesota's first same-sex weddings set for Thursday, supporters and opponents of the new marriage law are busy on very different tracks. Advocates want things to go smoothly on the first day. Businesses that don't want to serve gay and lesbian weddings continue to look at whether, legally, they can say no.
For vendors eager to serve this new slice of the wedding market, there's a website of welcoming Minnesota wedding vendors.
"We knew many Minnesota businesses and organizations would want to provide wedding-related services for same-sex couples in Minnesota once weddings started on August 1. So we created an easy way for these groups to let LGBT Minnesotans know that their wedding business is welcome across our state," said Eric Jensen, communications director for Project 515, which along with OutFront Minnesota helped change Minnesota's law and build the vendor list.
Jensen said more than 200 businesses, organizations and individuals have posted listings so far.
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That's a more positive spin than this piece in the Colu.mn, a LGBT website, that reminds shoppers which businesses contributed to Minnesota for Marriage, the group that tried to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. That measure was defeated by voters last year.
"Same-sex couples might want to avoid holding a reception at Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge Restaurant in (Spring Park). The owner gave $1,000 to Minnesota for Marriage." -- Planning a gay wedding in Minnesota? Buy Equality and avoid businesses that might discriminate
Minnesota for Marriage spokesperson Autumn Leva said Friday she wasn't aware of either effort, but said Minnesota for Marriage has been receiving a lot of inquiries from people in the wedding industry who oppose the new law but can't legally refuse to serve a gay couple. (Minnesota's 1993 Human Rights Law guarantees equal protection in public accommodations)
"Businesses are very concerned," said Leva. "They know that there is no protection for them in their ability to live out their beliefs in the way they run their business."
Leva says a farm owner was approached by a couple who wanted to rent it for their wedding, but Leva can't provide any specific names of businesses. Minnesota for Marriage is referring them to attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom which has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Washington State florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay customer for his wedding and was sued by that state's attorney general.
Leva predicts similar litigation will happen in Minnesota. "It certainly has proven to be true in every other state that passed same-sex marriage," said Leva. "I'm 100 percent certain that will be the case here in Minnesota as well."
Leva said Minnesota for Marriage is organizing a forum in October to help people understand the law.