Saturday, April 07, 2007

Disney opens 'Fairytale Weddings' to Gay Couples

The Walt Disney Company has changed its policy to allow same-sex couples to have "fairytale weddings" at its US resorts.

Disney previously allowed gay couples to organise their own weddings or commitment ceremonies at rented meeting rooms at the resorts, but had barred them from purchasing its fairytale wedding package and holding the event at locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World that are set aside specifically for weddings.

Disney Parks and Resorts spokesman Donn Walker said the change was prompted by "an inquiry from a guest that asked about this service".

"We are updating our fairytale wedding guidelines to include commitment ceremonies," Walker said.

"This is consistent with our policy of creating a welcoming, respectful and inclusive environment for all of our guests."

Disney had allowed gay couples to take part in its vow renewals program but excluded them from buying wedding packages by requiring a valid marriage license from California or Florida, which do not permit or recognise gay marriages.

Last month, gay Web site criticised Disney for not allowing same-sex couples to participate in the fairytale weddings and honeymoons program.

Disney's fairytale wedding packages start at $US8,000 ($A9,770) and include a wedding planner, the ceremony, food and beverages, flowers and table decorations.

The "lavish wedding" option also includes a ride to the ceremony in the Cinderella coach, costumed trumpeters heralding the couple's arrival, and attendance by Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters dressed in formal attire.

Disney has come under fire from religious conservatives, including the Southern Baptist Convention, who have accused the company of promoting a gay agenda.

The groups, which lifted an eight-year boycott of Disney in 2005, had criticised the company for such corporate policies as giving health benefits to same-sex partners of employees, allowing "Gay Day" celebrations at its theme parks and airing a prime-time television show on its ABC network featuring openly gay comedian Ellen DeGeneres.

But Mr Walker has rejected the criticism.

"We are not in the business of making judgments about the lifestyle of our guests," he said.

"We are in the hospitality business and our parks and resorts are open to everyone."

Source : Hotels
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