» Breakthroughs & Backlash in Marriage Equality: The 2016 Legal Landscape

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.

One of the hardest aspects of our long walk to marriage equality was, for me, hearing nationally broadcast comments from those who have never met me declaring my life and relationship to be “immoral” or “wrong” or “not right with God.”

How would they know me, my spirituality, and my life? Those who do know me would say the exact opposite.

My values have, after all, been crafted in the careful curation of a family and community that embraces compassion, commitment, service, and integrity. And these values are the hallmark of my 23+ year relationship with my spouse.

I had hoped that the marriage equality breakthrough granted to us by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015 would mean that my marriage (spiritually-bound for so many years, until we received this long-overdue, important civil right) would no longer be subject to the abject pronouncements by a small vocal group, and fueled by the members of their community who remained silent in fear of the repercussions for speaking up or revealing a change of heart.

But, here we are, even with marriage equality settled in all 50 states and over 85% of wedding professionals nationwide saying that they are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples, and the backlash is well underway. The conversation, though, is now being tried actively as one of religious freedom in both the court of public opinion and the court of law.

From The Headlines

Breakthroughs & Backlash in Marriage Equality: The 2016 Legal LandscapeKim Davis, a clerk in Kentucky, was the first high profile example of protest when she refused to sign the marriage license of a gay male couple that appeared in her office to apply. After a few short days in jail for refusing to do her civic duty and her ongoing resistance to fulfill the duties of her elected office, Gov. Matt Bevin altered the licenses allowing Davis and other dissenters not to sign. Kentucky then went on to attempt to pass a “separate-but-not-equal bill” that was ultimately rejected (and notably, not even supported by Davis).

More recently, after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill to shield marriage equality opponents, the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi waded into these controversial waters. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into a law that banned “anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and requiring transgender people in government buildings and public schools to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates.” And, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a broadly-worded bill into law allowing individuals and institutions to deny services to the LGBT community based on their religious beliefs.

The result in North Carolina? Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in protest. PayPal withdrew its plan for a $3.6M expansion in Charlotte, NC, an economic repercussion not unlike that faced by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after his push for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would have allowed for denial of services to LGBTQ couples. An additional 120 companies also signed an open letter for repeal of that law. In Mississippi, singer Bryan Adams cancelled a concert and eight companies, including Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Choice Hotels Corp, Inc., have signed an open letter to Gov. Bryant to repeal the bill, HB 1523. With such vocal and consistent support for the past few years, it remains clear that Fortune 500 companies recognize that supporting LGBTQ couples and families is good for business.

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» Understanding How SCOTUS Will Rule on Same-Sex Marriage

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.

From the early, isolated efforts of same-sex couples to attain a marriage license in the late 20th century to the coordinated efforts of engaged couples and advocacy groups over the past 10 years, we now await what may be a monumental ruling on same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

In mid-April, the Supreme Court justices heard four cases which ultimately set the stage for two primary questions regarding legal marriage. Those are: 1. Does the US Constitution require states to perform marriages; and 2. Does the US Constitution require states to recognize marriages performed in other states.

Lambda Legal infographic

Click through for full Infographic by Lambda Legal

Lambda Legal, an organization representing the LGBTQ community, put forth this fabulous infographic outlining what we might expect with a Yes or a No on either or both questions.

Experts suggest that we are likely to have the decision handed down on June 29th or 30th, just prior to the Justices departure for the summer break. The end of the term is typically when the most controversial decisions are announced and this year, with the decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act also expected, will be no exception. It is, of course, possible that the decision could be handed down sooner and as early as Monday, June 22nd. In either case, you’ll hear from us as soon as there is news.

How the court will rule is anyone’s guess, but some believe that Chief Justice Roberts will side with the majority opinion, resulting in a 6-3 decision. And many feel optimistic that, based on the hearing as well as the cases, consequences and favorable public opinion, that the majority will find in favor of marriage equality. The question will be whether same-sex couples have the right to marry in any state or the opportunity to have their marriages recognized in any state (leaving some wiggle room for individual states to work out their own policies – for now).

The WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com team will continue to watch for the decision and will explain in short order what the ruling means so that we might help the engaged couples, yet-to-be engaged couples, and wedding professionals understand what their options and responsibilities are.

Meanwhile, we’ll remain steadfast in our support of marriage equality via our long-standing #WedWeCan campaign and invite you to show your support for marriage equality by sharing your images of love with the hashtag #WedWeCan.

» Same-Sex Marriage Momentum: Do The Latest Legal Wins Impact You?

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.

This article was updated on Thursday, July 24 at 11:30am.

Since the fall of DOMA (the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’) in June 2013, the pace of marriage equality updates have quickened, with constitutional bans falling in state after state in ways that have outpaced my wildest dreams.

These days, I find myself updating my same-sex marriage ‘legal landscape’ presentations daily and, on some days, hourly! In the past few months, I’ve started presentations with one count for marriage equality states only to find that the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage (or bans overturned) has increased by the time I’m done speaking.

And, case in point, not long after this piece was first published, Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage was overturned by a Federal judge, meaning that gay marriage recognition in Colorado is now on stay through August 25, until the legal process can move the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (which, as noted below, has already upheld state decisions to overturn marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma).

Same-Sex Marriage Momentum: Do The Latest Legal Wins Impact You?Even with these many advancements, the current total of states recognizing marriage equality remains relatively stable at 19 states plus the District of Columbia. (Learn more about specific states below.)

The bigger story for 2014 is actually embedded in the number of states (14) that have overturned constitutional bans on marriage, leaving the legal recognition of same-sex marriage on stay, pending appeal. Or, in layperson’s and grossly oversimplified terms: various judges have overturned bans on marriage equality, but, in most cases, local jurisdictions have been unable to issue marriage licenses until the cases make their way through the appeals process – from state court to federal court to the Circuit Court of Appeals and, ultimately, to the Supreme Court – leaving most of the states in marriage limbo. For now.

As of this writing, seventeen (18!) consecutive federal courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality; thus, the legal groundswell, which is not without a minority voice of protest, clearly favors marriage equality.

If we, today, added to our count of marriage equality states (19 + DC), the states where bans have been overturned but are pending appeal, we would be celebrating marriage equality in thirty-three (33) states and the District of Columbia (source: Human Rights Campaign)!

The states currently in marriage limbo are:  Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Couples in Ohio and Tennessee have also benefited from favorable rulings where the out-of-state marriages of several couples were recognized by the courts.

Regionally speaking (as far as the U.S. is concerned), here are a few tips to consider:

If you work with couples in one of the 19 marriage equality states (or the District of Columbia), it remains ever-so-true that you need to take your services beyond gay-friendly if you want to be competitive. This is especially true in markets where marriage equality has been around for a fair share of years. It is essential that you update the language on your website, marketing materials, vendor listings, and contracts to be inclusive of all brides and grooms. In your markets, same-sex couples have choice so you need to showcase your industry skill set and gay wedding competence. Also be sure to request Reviews from past same-sex couples to get their valuable feedback on your services and show other couples searching for their wedding day team that you have experience in serving all kinds of couples and happy past clients!

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» Government Shutdown Threatens Weddings Nationwide

Government Shutdown Threatens Weddings NationwideAs you have likely heard, the government shutdown is affecting hundreds of thousands of government employees and their families across the nation, but the effects are causing notable and unforeseen consequences. Many engaged couples are finding that their wedding venues are unexpectedly closed for an unknown period of time, due to the shutdown.

National sites including federally-run parks, museums and monuments have been gaining popularity as wedding locations. Those who have spent months planning their special day at such a venue are now scrambling at the last minute to reschedule ceremonies, receptions, photography and more – with few alternatives. These couples are in danger of losing time and money spent obtaining permits and reserving sites as a result of the impasse in Congress.

In the DC area alone, many couples who were planning to getting married in October at various locations throughout the nation’s capital, now must make other plans. The government shutdown is putting even more strain on engaged couples in DC by shutting down the district’s Family Court Marriage Bureau which will not be performing marriages. With WeddingWire headquartered in the DC Metro area, the team is focused on assisting our local couples who are facing this hardship, during what should be a very exciting time.

WeddingWire Pros – we encourage you to take this opportunity to help engaged couples in need around you. Here’s what some local DC pros had to say about the shutdown:

“One of the many unpleasant side effects of the recent government shutdown is the impact it is having on DC brides. For couples who have been planning their special day for months to suddenly find out that their venue is unavailable because it is a government facility can be devastating. Fortunately, WeddingWire is a great resource for brides to turn to in order to find a new venue with a minimum of time lost. As a private venue in the greater Northern VA area, with proximity to DC, Rosemont would be honored to host these special events and to assist couples in any way to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

– Suzanne Pearson, Historic Rosemont Manor

“For brides/grooms affected by the Federal government shutdown, one of the best resources to help you find a new venue fast is WeddingWire.com. You can not only search venues easily by various search criteria (such as geographic area, type of venue, capacity of the venue) but you can also see photos and videos and contact the venue directly through the venue’s listing on WeddingWire. The extensive reviews from real brides/grooms help you to get a good picture of each venue to narrow your search. Any venue listed on WeddingWire would be happy to help brides/grooms affected by the government shutdown to find a new location for your wedding either at their venue or by referral to other venues in their area. And we can help brides/grooms organize their wedding quickly if they have had to move their wedding last minute.”

– Ellen Goldberg, Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast Inn

If you’re planning a wedding affected by the shutdown and searching for last-minute help, please check out the resources WeddingWire has to offer and feel free to start a conversation in our forums. With a database of more than 200,000 wedding professionals, you can find the most comprehensive listings for your wedding needs.

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» Do you Digg it?

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» Olympic Games Kick Off Today

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Hope you’re ready for some Olympics action because the games kick off today in Beijing.  In honor of the Olympic Games, we’ve put up a festive logo for the occasion on our homepage.  In case you’re wondering how to watch it when the time zones are so far apart, NBC is airing nearly all of the events via their website so we can watch the events when we want to.  How’s that for on demand?  Check it out.

Anyone think Michael Phelps can win gold in each event he enters?

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