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Religious Wedding Vendor Seeks Exemption for Gay Marriages

Discover Annapolis Tours says they have shut down their wedding services—which earn the company $50,000 a year—indefinitely.

An Annapolis wedding vendor plans to ask Maryland's General Assembly to give his company and others like him the right to refuse services to gay couples on religious grounds.

In November, Marylanders voted to uphold a law, passed by the General Assembly that legalized same-sex marriages starting Jan. 1.

"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," Discover Annapolis Tours owner Matt Grubbs wrote in an email.

The email was provided to Patch by Chris Belkot on Nov. 29. He received it from Grubbs after Belkot inquired about using the company's wedding services this spring. 

Grubbs confirmed the email, and said his attorney advised him to shut down the wedding part of his business immediately because he could be sued for refusing services to same-sex couples.

"We’re a Christian-owned company, and we just can't support gay marriages," Grubbs said. "We're not trying to make a statement. We're not trying to make a point. We're just trying to be faithful Christians."

The decision will cost him approximately $50,000 a year in revenue. 

"We would love to keep it open because a lot of people get engaged over Thanksgiving and Christmas and then call us," Grubbs said. "We hope to get back into it if we can get a religious exemption."

Grubbs' business, which provided trolley cars to transport wedding parties and guests from churches to receptions, still provides tours and other site seeing services.

An amendment granting a broader religious exemption wouldn't need to go to referendum or jump through any other special hoops just because same-sex marriage did, said Alan Brody, a spokesman for Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler.

But that doesn't mean it's likely to come to fruition in the 2013 legislative session.

So, for now, Discover Annapolis Tours is out of the wedding business.

Mike January 02, 2013 at 04:53 PM
One other consequence of such "anti-discrimination" laws is far more harmful than most realize: the creation of hatred that wouldn't otherwise exist. When the market is filled with lots of groups lobbying for political favors that allow seizure or control of others' property, thieves are everywhere. It creates a new type of political competition, where financial success is driven by gaining POWER and TAKING from others, rather than by pleasing customers. When this group-based political theft becomes a major factor in the market, otherwise unbiased people suddenly have a RATIONAL, non-racist, non-sexist, non-whatever-ist reason to hate other groups. It's nothing personal, it's just business. Only outrage at theft is inherently personal, and people build up group-based hatred. And who benefits? The people who make their "living" off of the conflict. The people who work in political favors. It's a lot like divorce lawyers. They prosper the most when the spouses can't even speak rationally anymore, and it becomes a war. Our society needs to cast off the divorce lawyers, and celebrate and rebuild ourselves in the mutual love and respect that is LIVE AND LET LIVE. Yes, some bigots will be around. But they'll be around anyway. Laws that choose winners and losers in the market just create opportunity for bigots. When we all leave the law out of it, the bigots have no leverage, and thus little influence.
chipdex January 02, 2013 at 06:20 PM
I understand what you are saying about the potential for abuses and in a large way I side with your ideology, especially where money (taxation) is concerned. But when it comes to the anti-discrimination laws, I just think it makes common sense. I understand that to some extent, like all laws, it is a restriction on freedom backed ultimately by govt guns. But in this case it ensures a more liveable society. For example, it would be stressful to never know until I get there whether a hotel is going to allow "my kind" to stay there, or whether a bar or restaurant will or won't let "my kind" in, or whether or not this or that cab or shuttle service will or won't serve me. Imagine traveling and having that additional stress. Now I realize there could be workarounds, maybe we could require businesses to state up front who they do or don't serve, or create an Angie's list of sorts to disseminate that kind of information, but it just feels too unstable to allow any business owner the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason at any given moment. So I guess this is why I support laws which force business owners/operators to limit their discrimination to issues germane to the functional operation of that business only, and not to racial or other prejudices.
chipdex January 02, 2013 at 06:20 PM
(continued from previous post...) Now the sexual orientation one is tricky because some people view it as bad moral choice, and in general we allow a certain level of discrimination against folks for moral reasons - think credit reports, drug tests for employment, criminal background checks, etc. So those who feel that homosexuality is a bad moral choice, believe that it fits in the category of "fair discrimination". Those who feel homosexuality is either innate and/or not a bad moral choice, naturally think that to discriminate against those who practice homosexuality is akin to discriminating against color/race/etc. Honestly maybe the best advice for that shuttle service, is to publish publicly their views about homosexuality, and so its likely that they won't get many gay couples as clients. But they've chosen to go out of business instead.
Mike January 02, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Chipdex, FWIW, while I appreciate that you're thinking ahead, as a practical matterI don't think there'd be much problem at all with travel and other logistics. Nearly all rooms are booked in advance. Pleces already have terms and conditions posted online and they have to disclose them there or it'd be a nightmare with people showing up, just as, say, with pet vs. no-pet restrictions. Further, I don't think any but the smallest and/or most short-lived companies would choose to discrimate against any of the usual groups. Nobody with stockholders would even dare as they'd be social outcasts overnight if they did. One question of principle where I'm curious on your stance. There is no harm to anyone by NOT interacting with him. Not interacting in private business is the same as not interacting socially except that an exchange takes place. So, what justifiable legal basis is there to punish someone, ultimately under threat of death, for simply choosing NOT to interact with someone? Not interacting doesn't cause harm or threaten the "victim", it doesn't take from or defraud the "victim." (As Jefferson said, it neither "breaks my arm nor picks my pocket.") So what moral justification can there be for using force of LAW to seize the property, liberty, or life of the bigot who has not done harm to anyone? Doing so undermines the very concept of private property. It commandeers private property for public use, literally for the crime of doing nothing.
chipdex January 04, 2013 at 02:04 PM
I like your way of thinking Mike - and largely I agree with it. I hear what you are saying about things done TO people versus the harm of choosing not to associate. And I agree to a point. However, I think if a large enough majority was behaving in discriminatory ways towards one or more minorities, and if that majority had a lot of power (wealth, control of resources) that could result in real harm to that minority. So while I think maybe its over-reaching in the case of the shuttle service and other small business owners, I do believe that govt guns possibly should get involved if a monopoly of power was systematically oppressing a relatively powerless minority. Now I agree that perhaps even then govt guns aren't fully necessary, I'm not sure on that point. I mean it would be best to try to reason with, and boycott, and try other means, but I think at some point the U.S. has just said "this kind of behavior is ultimately very bad for the country" and thus codified it into law. I realize the net effect is that govt guns are ultimately behind forcing people to do business with each other and I understand why this concerns you, but I'm just not sure its that bad of a reason, given the racial history of our country - slavery, then segregation, etc. I can understand why such laws now may seem unnecessary in this decade because fortunately we're moving past racism in a lot of ways, which is a very good thing!

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