BTL LGBTQ Wedding and Anniversary Event Returns to MotorCity Casino. Click here to get tickets.
Same-sex marriage may be safe for now, but the LGBTQ community is not safe from business owners who are allowed to refuse patrons service because of their religious beliefs.
Anti-LGBTQ sentiment has been on the rise since President Donald Trump took office. He recently proclaimed Jan. 16 as Religious Freedom Day. This follows the executive order he issued last May titled "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty," and his announcement of a new division within the Department of Health and Human Services devoted to "conscience and religious freedom."
This may set the tone for the Supreme Court ruling in June on the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case that pits religious freedom against anti-discrimination laws.
While justices are reported to be equally divided along ideological lines about the case, the SCOTUS ruling may also be influenced by past litigation such as Obergefell v. Hodges, Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises, Inc. and the more recent cake case involving Cathy Miller, owner of Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield, California. Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe ruled in favor of Miller who told a same-sex couple in August 2017 she would not bake them a cake because it "clashed with her Christian faith." She instead referred them to another bakery, according to Lampe's ruling.
It's with this in mind that Between The Lines is proud to present close to 100 LGBTQ-friendly vendors and venues at the 8th annual Ultimate LGBT Wedding & Anniversary Expo at the MotorCity Casino Hotel on March 11. The event will include bakers, photographers, banquet halls, hotels, cruise lines, real estate agents, travel agencies, caterers, wedding planners, officiants, churches and adoption agencies. These are the companies and business people who value us not just as potential customers but as full celebrants of marriage equality. It is important for us to keep up the pressure against the forces that want us to disappear from society. But it is even more important for us to recognize our friends, thank them and rally around them as they support us.
Changing Attitudes on Same-Sex Weddings
"We really cherish our reputation for being inclusive," said Katherine Lesse, co-owner at Abracadabra, a jewelry and gem gallery in Ann Arbor. Lesse and the Abra crew, "Love to help people find the jewelry that is perfect for them, exactly what they have been dreaming of, no matter what that jewelry item is or who they are. We love jewelry and we love people. Very simple. Beauty, like love, is universal and is something that everyone responds to. One of the most important aspects of being an inclusive vendor is helping our customers feel comfortable and supported as we help them translate both beauty and love into a piece that represents their union."
When asked if she has any advice for LGBTQ couples shopping for jewelry, Lesse said, "If you don't feel like you're being listened to, taken seriously or respected, do not work with that vendor, for any aspect of your celebration."
Lesse and the Abra crew are available to help LGBTQ couples find that unique, one-of-a-kind piece. At the moment, they're loving meteorite wedding bands, rainbow sapphire jewelry and raw diamonds.
Steve Schwall and Kathy Mabbott of Rawlinson Photography are committed to capturing every laugh and every tear for LGBTQ couples so they can relive every wedding moment for years to come.
"Having some idea about what you want the final images to look like will go a long way to help your photographer tell your story," said Mabbott. "As a professional photographer for close to 25 years, I don't want to just photograph your wedding, I want to tell your story. I want those images to be a representation of that couple, who they are, and how they feel towards each other. We are creating their first family heirloom together so it's important that it represents them."
When asked if they have any tips or suggestions for LGBTQ couples when selecting a photographer, Mabbot said, "Hire a professional … Have a time schedule. We always suggest and create a detailed itinerary for all of our couples. This helps keeps everybody on the same page throughout the day where they need to be, when they need to be there and who needs to be there. The schedule cuts down on lateness, missed opportunities and most of all, stress for the couple. Have fun … if you ask anybody that was recently married they will all tell you how fast the day went. No wedding is perfect, things happen, deal with it then move on. It's about saying 'I do' to the love of your life, surrounded by the most important people in your world. Enjoy every minute of it."
Jeff Nelson of the Tux Shop on Woodward has been helping members of the LGBTQ community look the way they feel for more than five years now.
"We have always been proud to be an inclusive vendor at the Expo," he said. "We have shown that we work extremely well with every type of customer for any type of wedding by providing outstanding services. We do this by offering a variety of products such as colorful tuxedos and accessories for rental and for purchase with special promotions for Expo guests."
Nelson suggests starting shopping early. That way, he and his staff can create great options with style, color and fit in mind. This year, The Tux Shop on Woodward has brand new print jackets in black, navy and red.
"Sometimes brides or grooms request specific ideas for their wedding tuxedos or suits. At The Tux Shop on Woodward, we will create a timeline and plan to come up with the perfect outfit for your wedding," he said, adding that he is able to accommodate anyone wishing to purchase a tuxedo or suit.
Despite free speech and religious liberty, vendors like these pride themselves on helping LGBTQ couples write their own rules for their celebrations the Expo. Forget tradition and what you may think weddings "should" look like and do it your way with the right people by your side.
Check out MILGBTWedding.com, which offers an enhanced wedding planning experience for LGBTQ couples online.