New York Embraces Gay Couples, Promotes State As Gay Wedding Destination

New York City is poised to be the next popular gay wedding destination – at least if Mayor Bloomberg’s new “NYC I do” tourism plan succeeds. A law that finally legalized gay marriage in New York State passed on July 24th, which means that GLBT couples can marry anywhere in the state of New York. It also means that New York city further secure it’s prominent role in LGBT rights history, while also profiting from gay tourists spending tens of thousands on a wedding.

Recent data shows that gay tourism is a $100 billion dollar a year industry, which helps to explain the genesis of the “NYC I Do” campaign. As many New York City residents can attest, tourism is an important economic driver for their city. What’s more, New York city government is facing serious budget shortfalls, so it’s no surprise that Mayor Bloomberg wants to promote gay destination weddings and tourism.

It’s hoped that New York City’s prominence in gay rights history will help entice couples to marry in the city. The Stonewall Inn – the location of a defining moment in gay rights history in 1969 where gay people stood up against discrimination – is already a draw for tourists, and because New York City has worked to embrace gay culture over the last few decades (after the Stonewall, at least) it’s likely the city’s plan to encourage gay tourism will succeed.

Numerous gay icons – including Ralph Lauren and Audre Lorde – call New York City home, and Manhattan’s Greenwhich Village might be the most gay-friendly community on the East Coast. Now that NY state has recognized GLBT marriage rights, city officials and the local wedding industry can begin to market the Big Apple as a great place to have a same sex wedding.

New York has always been one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and there is some concern that the “NYC I Do” campaign will discourage some people from visiting the city. In many US states, voters have decided that gays do not have the right to marry, and it’s possible that people who do not believe in gay marriage rights will stop coming to New York.

While only time will tell, it seems unlikely that the new “NYC I Do” campaign will do anything but help NYC tourism. The reasons that people come to New York – sightseeing, shopping, eating, the city’s rich history – haven’t changed with the passage of this new law.

Another challenge with packaging New York City as a gay wedding destination is competition from other states and other countries. New York is only the sixth state to recognize gay marriage rights, and outside the USA dozens of countries recognize these rights as well. In Nepal, for example, many tourism companies offer gay couples who exchange vows mountain meditation tours, yoga and other new-age activities that turn the marriage ceremony into a sort of spiritual pilgrimage…all as part of the wedding package.

Someday, New York state will be just one of many US states that recognize gay marriage rights. Until then, getting married will be a good excuse for GLBT couples to see the Big Apple.

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