» LGBTQ Updates: The New Normal

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States (fondly nicknamed SCOTUS for short here in Washington, DC) heard the case regarding California’s Proposition 8 (Prop 8) and the federal case regarding DOMA (the “Defense of Marriage Act”). As such, the news cycle in March was full of stories about the shifting attitudes regarding same-sex marriage and the steadily growing number of states that embrace some form of domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples.

PUBLIC OPINION: Not If, But When

Recently, a Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed that 58% of those surveyed – a new all-time high – stated that they support same-sex marriage. New highs have also been noted by the Pew Research Center, which has found that 49% of those polled support marriage equality. While there may be some variation in poll result based on how the question is posed, the over-arching result is the same: attitudes in favor of same-sex marriage are shifting and have been shifting quickly.

These increases are even seen in the wedding market. Eight-six percent (86%) of WeddingWire’s own vendors surveyed, for example, have reported that they do or plan to serve same-sex couples and most do so because they support marriage equality. But, even amongst those who do not support same-sex marriage, a majority (64%) still see marriage equality as ‘inevitable.’

NATIONAL CAMPAIGNS: National Brands and Political Parties Making The Move

What’s most interesting about the recent collection of headlines is the diverse set of voices now offering support to marriage equality. The Washington Post recently reported on the increasing number of NFL players, rappers, and conservatives becoming vocal about their support of same-sex marriage. And, Ohio Senator Rob Portman (recently considered as a potential 2012 Vice Presidential nominee for the Republican party) came out in favor of same-sex marriage, sharing that his son is gay.

In the business world, corporations, including Nike, Google, Starbucks and Microsoft, have become more vocal with almost 300 national firms filling an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, in favor of seeing DOMA over-turned. And, their ad sales and marketing departments have gotten in on the act as well. Kindle, Expedia and Microsoft have all recently folded storylines about same-sex couples into their ads – and not as a punch line or big deal. The message is one small harmonious part of the larger whole.

LEGAL UPDATES: Colorado Updates Its Books

In 2012, Maine, Maryland and Washington state all enacted marriage equality at the ballot box. And, in March, Colorado enacted Civil Unions joining Illinois and Iowa as “fly over” states that have enacted partnership recognition laws for same-sex couples.  It’s very possible that California will find its marriage rights restored should SCOTUS find in favor of the lower court rulings that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, and this could have impact on its neighbors — Oregon and Nevada – who share similarly worded strong partnership recognition rights at the state level. But, regardless of specific outcome, those couples who have been waiting on SCOTUS to make decisions about where and when to celebrate their nuptials, will have the answers that they’ve been waiting for come June when SCOTUS is likely to announce its decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA.

Check out this great INFOGRAPHIC by the Human Rights Campaign, taking a look at the more likely outcomes from the Supreme Court arguments in the Prop. 8 and DOMA cases!

IN SUM

Ultimately, for wedding Pros who have been “on the fence” about preparing their businesses to serve same-sex couples or for those who have been waiting for the right opportunity, the time is now and your ‘wing man’ (if you’ve needed one) has arrived. The majority now favors marriage equality, more states than ever are enacting partnership rights for same-sex couples, and the practice of gay and lesbian weddings (whether communally, spiritually or legally sanctioned) are now spreading from “sea to shining sea.”

As you think about your business and its growth in 2013, I ask: Are you willing to serve same-sex couples? Are you ready for the new normal? And, if not, are you asking the right questions to get there?

Do you have questions about working with same-sex couples or other LGBTQ updates? Interact with Kathryn in the WeddingWire Pro Forums or submit a question to be answered on the Pro Blog.