An Annapolis company whose old-fashioned trolleys are iconic in the city's wedding scene has abandoned the nuptial industry rather than serve same-sex couples.
The owner of Discover Annapolis Tours said he decided to walk away from $50,000 in annual revenue instead of compromising his Christian convictions when same-sex marriages become legal in Maryland in less than a week. And he has urged prospective clients to lobby state lawmakers for a religious exemption for wedding vendors.
... Wedding vendors elsewhere who refused to accommodate same-sex couples have faced discrimination lawsuits — and lost. Legal experts said Discover Annapolis Tours sidesteps legal trouble by avoiding all weddings.
... The trolley company's decision, publicized by a straight groom offended by what he called "repressive bigotry," offers a snapshot of a local business navigating a new landscape in Maryland's wedding industry, and leaving it behind for a competitor to swoop in.
The head of the Maryland Wedding Professionals Association said the trolley company is the second vendor to refuse business over the state's same-sex marriage law, which voters upheld in November. The Maryland clergyman who led opposition to same-sex marriage called the trolley company's choice to abandon profits on principle "gutsy" and predicted that more businesses would quietly follow suit.
... Frank Schubert, the political strategist who ran campaigns against same-sex marriage in Maryland and three other states this year, said opponents predicted collateral damage from legalizing same-sex unions.
"This is exactly what happens," Schubert said, adding that religious liberty is "right in the cross hairs of this debate. … The law doesn't protect people of faith. It simply doesn't."
Schubert pointed to a handful of other examples publicized in news reports across the country of wedding vendors sued for refusing to accommodate a same-sex ceremony: a pair of Vermont innkeepers, a New Jersey church group and a New Mexico wedding photographer.