Maryland: Business turns away all wedding bookings instead of having to cater for gay couples

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A business in the Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland, has decided to turn down all wedding related bookings to prevent a legal challenge from banning same-sex couples trying to use his trolleys for their wedding.

Discover Annapolis Tours is an old-fashioned trolley service that currently makes around $50,000 of annual revenue from servicing weddings. The Christian owner says that he would rather turn away all booking than have to help gay couples celebrate their special day when equal marriage legislation comes into law on January 1st.

The trolley company’s decision was publicised by a straight groom offended by “repressive bigotry” after he contacted them about making a booking.

Discover Annapolis Tours owner Matt Grubbs emailed prospective client Chris Belkot last month and said “we used to do weddings until recently. But we’re a Christian-owned business, and we are not able to lend support to gay marriages. And as a public accommodation, we cannot discriminate between gay or straight couples, so we had to stop doing all wedding transportation.”

He went to to ask clients to contact politicians to “request they amend the new marriage law to allow an exemption for religious conviction for the layperson in the pew. The law exempts my minister from doing same-sex weddings, and the Knights of Columbus don’t have to rent out their hall for a gay wedding reception, but somehow my religious convictions don’t count for anything.”

Glendora Hughes, general counsel for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights told the Baltimore Sun: “If they’re providing services to the public, they can’t discriminate who they provide their services to.”

The head of the Maryland Wedding Professionals Association said that the company is the second of its members to have abandoned the wedding industry since the law to make marriage equal was passed.

Derek McCoy, executive director of the anti-gay Maryland Marriage Alliance described the decision to shut down as a “bold and noble statement” he added: “the other option would have been just to become a legal case.”