Iowans Eager to Cash In on Gay Weddings
The advent of marriage equality in Iowa has meant more than gay and lesbian families now having the right to enter into legally recognized wedlock; it’s also opened the door to new career opportunities.
Am April 30 article at the Des Moines Register related how Beau Fodor, who once worked with The Salvation Army and has previous experience as a window dresser, saw more in the state’s embrace of marriage equality than happily-ever-afters for same-sex couples: he saw a chance at a fulfilling new career--as a wedding planner.
Fodor was quoted in the article as saying that, "I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be a 40-something gay wedding planner.
"I never saw that coming," Fodor added. "But when it did, I just thought, ’OK, I can really do this.’"
The article said that Fodor’s first gig will come to fruition with a ceremony planned for May 2.
Moreover, the newly won access of gay and lesbian families to marriage equality left Fodor feeling that he is "equal and human and the same as everybody else."
Fodor is not alone in looking to make weddings into a career in the midst of an economic slowdown that has workers around the world worried.
Said Chris Diebel, "I don’t think we’ll have the big rush from out of state that many people have pondered," but none the less, those who do marry in the state will be willing to go all-out: "The consensus I’m hearing from my friends is that, ’We won’t be first, but we will be perfect.’ For many of us, we’ve been waiting our whole lives for this opportunity. For most of us, we really want to take our time and do this right."
The article cited a UCLA study from last year that projected an economic upturn of as much as $160 million for the state over the next three years, thanks to marriage equality becoming a reality there.
But with the newness of weddings for same-sex couples come uncertainties: Fodor said that, "Every single person who is coming here is asking me, ’Will I be safe?’"
Added the newly-minted wedding planner, "That is a horrible thing to deal with."
Fodor said he would be pleased to help straight couples plan their unions, as long as they are okay with working with his preferred vendors, the article noted.
He’s also been asked whether he’ll serve straight couples. Gay weddings are his niche, Fodor said, but he’d be happy to work with anyone who is welcoming of his gay-friendly vendors.
Not all vendors are happy about the new pool of prospective clientele: the article cited a couple who had been denied by "unnamed Central Iowa vendors."
That snag is easy to work around, thanks to a new Web site created by one of half of a couple who encountered discrimination
Barb Synodinos calls her site "a clearing house for people to go to," where they can find gay-friendly vendors for all their wedding needs.
"We welcome any new business," said one caterer, commenting in a story broadcast at CBS-2 News, while another welcomed the business of gay and lesbian families with an exclamation of, "Bring it on!"
The impending summer months are a high season for weddings, the story noted, making the arrival of marriage equality a timely one for Iowa businesses, not all owners of which might personally agree with marriage equality--but who could all use the clientele.
Another possible boost for the state could come in the form of creative, well educated workers being willing to relocate there--the so-called "creative class," who might view Iowa as a more desirable place to live.
The Des Moines Register noted in an April 5 article that because nearby states do not offer legal acceptance of gay and lesbian families, Iowa may become an oasis for younger people, who polls show are much more supportive of marriage equality than are older Americans... and that could translate into a welcome flow of tourist dollars and a bigger tax base.
The arrival of marriage equality "makes Iowa overall a more welcoming state," David Redlawsk, a political scientist with the University of Iowa, was quoted as saying.
"That’s a good thing from the standpoint of businesses who, frankly, are concerned about quality of life issues for their employees."
The article cited a recent poll by the University of Iowa that determined that nearly 60% of under-30 Iowans were in favor of equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian families.
Studies looking at how marriage equality would affect other states uniformly painted optimistic pictures, the article said. In Vermont, the projection was for 700 new jobs; were Maine to extend marriage equality, a thousand new jobs might well be the result; and if California were to restore marriage equality--narrowly yanked from gay and lesbian families by voters last November after a bruising and massively expensive campaign to turn public opinion against family equality--the result was predicted to be a whopping 2,200 jobs, with a nearly $700 million boost to the state’s economy over three years.