Pride Source Media Group, publishers of Between The Lines newspaper, and the Detroit Marriott Livonia are gearing up once again to co-host “Celebrate the Power of Love: A Wedding Expo for Same-Sex Couples” on April 7.
Organizers are expecting record attendance as gay marriage is in the forefront of daily news. In national news, President Obama, former President Clinton, legislators and thousands of gay rights advocates have been pushing to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This week the Supreme Court hears testimony challenging DOMA’s far-reaching and devastating effects. In Michigan, just days ago the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians began performing the state’s first legal gay marriages.
These are tumultuous, energizing and empowering times for millions of LGBT American citizens, along with gay rights advocates and human rights activists. Brent Brozek and David Abler shopped the expo prior to their civil union in 2011. “As someone who has had both a civil union (2011 Chicago) and marriage (2012 New York), I definitely feel things are changing rather rapidly,” commented Brozek. “I am hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn DOMA so same-sex civil unions and marriages will be recognized at the federal level.”
“While Dave and I are legally married, it is only recognized in a few states and Michigan is not one,” continued Brozek. “The state, as well as our families, realizes we are a couple and accept that, but they don't accept that our marriage is real. It's real to both of us and that's what matters, but if something were to happen to one of us, neither of us would have any survivor benefits at the state or federal level.”
There are still hurdles to overcome, but progress has been made and the BTL Same-Sex Wedding Expo returns as a much-anticipated social and networking event, and stands in commemoration of community, progress and love.
“Same-sex couples need gowns, tuxedos, caterers, wedding cakes, banquet halls, limos, invitations – everything that goes into creating a special wedding event,” said Jan Stevenson, co-publisher of BTL. “They can find all of that at the Same-Sex Wedding Expo, and talk to the vendors who enjoy working with our community the most. “
“We can support the vendors that support our community, and our right to get married – in Canada, in the nine states that allow it in the U.S. – and eventually here in Michigan!” added Stevenson.
The expo provides a one-stop resource for anyone planning a wedding in metro Detroit. The expo features a vast array of vendors, fabulous food, free wine, fantastic giveaways and door prizes. This year a live band and workshops have been added to the festivities.
Weekend getaway packages from the event's premium sponsors - Caesar's Windsor and Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, as well as from host venue Detroit Marriott Livonia, will be awarded to seven lucky attendees – that’s one every 30 minutes!
The Detroit Marriott Livonia initiated the event partnership with Pride Source in 2011 after it received two inquiries in a month from same-sex couples that had lost confirmed bookings when venue managers discovered their orientation.
“They asked if we host commitment ceremonies and we said, ‘You mean there are places that don’t?’” said Danielle Bastianelli, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. The hotel is endorsed by TAG, which bases its approval on pro-LGBT business practices including non-discrimination in hiring, treating heterosexual and same-sex partners equally and diversity training for staff.