Cake: check. Caterer: check. Reception: check. Minister: check. Flowers: check.
Law: At long last, check.
Some South Sound suppliers to the marriage trade expect the consequences after passage of R-74 will include increased business, as same-sex couples move beyond commitment ceremonies to actual nuptials.
Some businesses already serve the GBLT (gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender) community, providing the essentials of ceremonies, from venues to banquets and everything in between. Some wonder whether the law will provide new clients and, if so, how much business will increase.
It’s a new law in a new world, and some believe that could mean new opportunities.
“If more people are getting married, there’s a good chance that more people will hold their celebrations at Hotel Murano,” said Kate Buska, spokeswoman for the downtown Tacoma hotel. “We would welcome those couples just as we welcome all couples. We are GBLT-friendly. We would expect there might be some uptick.”
Michael Sundsmo, manager of the Stadium District Landmark Catering and Convention Center, said he expects the change in the law to prompt an increase in the wedding business.
“We are and always have been a GBLT-friendly facility, and would welcome all people,” Sundsmo said. “I’ve had same-sex couples come to me and say they’ve been turned down by other facilities. My heart just goes out to them.
“I believe that now, most of the people will welcome the business.”
The change in the law “will open some doors for sure,” said Diana Thornton of Just In Time Event Coordinating of Bonney Lake.
“It’s going to change a little bit about how we go about our business. There will be some people who are apprehensive to say they are supportive, but I feel that being outright one way or the other is going to hurt their business.”
David Dagley, co-owner of Jonz Catering of Tacoma, said, “This is a segment of the community that is underserved by the whole events community.”
Still, he said, any increase in business likely won’t be immediate.
“We probably won’t see a big jump until the first of the year, if there is a push,” Dagley said.
Odette D’Aniello of Tacoma’s Celebrity Cake Studio, which regularly does same-sex wedding cakes, said she was unsure what effect the new law will have.
“I don’t know if it’s going to increase business,” D’Aniello said.
Steve Barbazette, owner of Blitz & Co. Florist in downtown Tacoma, also was not sure of any upcoming impact.
“It may change,” he said. “I’m not sure what it will do. We’ve done a few, but not a lot. Whether the legality will make a difference, if people will put on a bigger event, we’ll see.”
Things look clearer to Brittany Zier, manager of the downtown Olympia Grand Holiday Ballroom, who expects an increase in business. In fact, she said, her venue began receiving inquiries six months ago. Now it’s a matter of turning those inquiries into signed contracts.
To keep the business coming, she will begin doing outreach to the GBLT community.
“I know we’ve been contacted by a few companies who have forums and websites where people go to for GBLT-friendly information.”
Bita Echeverria, owner of Celebrations by Bita of Olympia, also expects to be busy.
“Obviously it will make my business go up,” she said. “It’s going to boom my business.”
ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS APPLY
Must companies accept the business of same-sex couples, even if their operators oppose gay marriage?
Yes, said Peter Nicolas, professor of law and adjunct professor of gender, women and sexuality studies at the University of Washington School of Law.
But not because of Referendum 74. Anti-discrimination provisions already were in force even before the measure passed.
The new law “does not in any way alter the current anti-discrimination laws that are already on the books,” Nicolas said.
Current laws, he said, “prohibit businesses that serve the public from refusing to serve someone on a variety of bases, including race, sex and sexual orientation.”
The new law does make clear, he said, that organizations such as churches, mosques and synagogues are not required to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535 firstname.lastname@example.org C.R. Roberts, staff writer