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Gay Tourism In Upswing After Referendum
Montgomery(JM) - On June 6, Alabamians voted by a four-to-one margin to amend the State's 1901 constitution to insure that the state will recognize no marriage between parties of the same sex, regardless of the laws of any other state or jurisdiction. In the weeks following the referendum, tourism and sex-industry watchers have reported a huge increase in the numbers of gay tourists coming to Alabama. "The marriage thing has really put us on the map," said East Lake bed and breakfast owner Chase Pettigrew, "The phones have been ringing off the hook and, except for Labor Day and a couple of other weekends, we're booked through March. Gay couples are really interested in taking a vacation from their marriages.."

Granted, it's an unusual interpretation of the law, but certainly seems to be a popular one, according to founder Bud Tichelaar. His site's forums are abuzz with the notion that, for gay couples, a weekend in Alabama is a weekend free of marital bonds -- a guilt-free vacation with other gay men who are all, by law, single. "We've got couples from Massachusetts, some of whom were waiting in line to get married, now thinking of buying vacation homes in Gulf Shores specifically so they can swing again without breaking their legal vows. Inquiries about hotel regulations and potential resort areas have begun to trickle in to dumbfounded state officials.

"I guess there's been two calls today, maybe six this week" said David Hutchison of the Alabama Development Office's recruitment division. "I don't know what to tell them. We don't really have a tourism plan to account for this kind of development and I expect it's the type of thing that will meet with a lot of local resistance. On the other hand, something like this has real potential to help us meet our goals for the quarter. One guy I spoke to today, a real enthusiastic guy from the D.C. area, said he was interested in showing us plans for a whole gay-friendly theme park in the Lincoln area on I-20. That could mean 200 to 400 jobs as early as summer 2008. I just can't imagine that Talladega County's voters had this in mind when they voted for the amendment. ...Not that there's any way for them to prevent such a thing."

Neither of the Amendment's sponsors, Yusuf Salaam (D, Selma) or Hinton Mitchem (D, Guntersville) were available for comment. Marcel Black, Chair of the Judiciary Committee did state that he hoped a move to introduce a referendum on the "No Gay Theme Parks Amendment" would succeed in putting the issue on the November ballot in time to stop what he characterized as "Sodom and Gomorrah all wrapped up together and served on g__d___ toast in the Heart of Dixie".