When the California Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples had the same right to marry as anyone and that any law discriminating against someone because of their sexual orientation would be unconstitutional, they didn’t just change California—they changed America. That might seem like a bold statement, especially since California wasn’t the first state to legalize gay marriage, but, for the first time, a state’s court ruling didn’t carry any residency requirements. So anyone from the United States can travel to California and return home a legally married couple.
Some people view gay marriage as a step forward and an opportunity, not just for couples who have been waiting to get married for years or for social change and equality, but for a new business demographic. Suddenly, there is a demand for gay wedding cakes, gay china patterns and, of course, gay honeymoons.
All-gay cruises and vacation resorts are not a new concept. Atlantis Events has been giving new meaning to the term “queen sized bed” since 1991, but gay honeymooners need to add a rightfully romantic air to what has generally been viewed as excuses for extravagant, shirtless beach parties. Recognizing the need for gay honeymoons in the market, California bed and breakfasts have begun to assemble wedding and honeymoon packages specifically for homosexual couples. Some of the packages are lazy attempts to cash in on the market. The one at Hope-Merrill Bed and Breakfast in Sonoma County, for example, just takes the normal honeymoon package and places the word “gay” in front of it. But most seem to celebrate this monumental decision in California.
Locally, however, the trend hasn’t caught on. Though it may not necessarily be a reflection of anyone’s views on the hot political issue, it may just be an issue of basic economics. While Vicki Dame, owner of Travel Unlimited, says they don’t have anything specific set up for gay honeymooners, it is something they can and will do. “I think we just need to get the word out that we can do it. We haven’t had people come in looking for it, but if they knew we could do it, I think they would. … Some gay couples may be apprehensive about going to places where they don’t know if they’ll get funny looks or not. If they knew we have the ability to send them to places that are used to [homosexual couples] and are familiar with that, they would be much more comfortable.”
The local travel agency uses a company called ZipToGayTravel.com to arrange accommodations for someone looking for “gay-friendly” cruises, airlines and resorts. For ZipToGay, the term gay-friendly refers to the attitude and approach of the staff and general clientele. As defined on their website, gay-friendly is a “property which is open to actively welcoming gay and lesbian vacationers and extending the same service levels, courtesies and professionalism as they extend to all other visitors.” It turns out gay-friendly means common decency.
In the end, a gay honeymoon is not defined by a set of activities or a destination. “It depends on what the client wants, where the client wants to go,” Dame said in a recent phone interview. Brunch in Brussels, dinner on the Danube or the classic nights at Niagara Falls, a honeymoon can fit the couple. What’s important is that now, the marriage can, too.