Iowa City group hopes to draw gay couples - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City group hopes to draw gay couples


IOWA CITY (KWWL) - California state supreme court justices upheld Proposition 8, meaning same-sex marriage is still banned in the country's largest state.
Iowa, meanwhile, remains one of just several states where gays and lesbians can marry, and that's bringing those couples here.

The wheels started turning within days of the supreme court ruling.

How could Iowa City capitalize on the decision to allow gay marriage?  The campaign is already underway.

Server Jill Kinkade says she was happy Devotay got to host a bus-load of same sex couples from Missouri after they got married in Iowa City.

"It was very festive," Kinkade said, about the 17 same-sex couples who married in Iowa City on May 1st.  "Everybody was just kind of chatting and everybody had corsages and flowers. Everybody was extremely nice."

A committee formed with the help of Josh Schamberger at the Iowa City/Coralville convention visitors bureau is working to try and make trips like the busload from Missouri to Iowa City more frequent.

"This group was pulled together to really identify how best we could service that group and promote ourselves as a welcoming community," convention and visitors bureau executive director Josh Schamberger said.

"First of all it seems like a natural that we would try to attract people and not repel people," committee member Mark Ginsberg said. 

Ginsberg says he's already seeing an impact at his downtown Iowa City jewelry store.

"We seem to be designing for same-sex couples more so today than we had for heterosexual couples," Ginsberg said.

Several area hotels already have same-sex weddings booked for the coming months. Supporters say the reason for this marketing push is simple.

"This isn't about politics," Ginsberg said. "This isn't about religion. This is pure economics and how do we engage in being an inclusive community and destination. Period."

"I think it's a very good initiative," Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey said. "I think it's very creative and seizing an opportunity that I think would benefit us."

It's an inititiative that has places like Devotay hoping the busloads just keep on coming.

"Bring it on," Kinkade said. "We'd love to be known as a place where people go after they get married and have fun."

Schamberger said the convention and visitors bureau has gotten a total of two phone calls from people concerned about the idea.

For the 18,000 same-sex couples in California who got married prior to Proposition 8, the court ruled those marriages will remain legal and valid, grandfathered in.

Kathleen White, Gay Rights Supporter says, "It's nice that my marriage is still intact but that's not the point. The point is that everybody should have the same civil rights across the board."

One of the leading gay rights organizations in California is already vowing to put this back on the ballot, so California voters could weigh-in again on this marriage-issue as early as next year.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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