Annapolis, Maryland — A tourist company in Maryland has decided to end its wedding-related services in order to avoid lawsuits from homosexuals who believe that the business should be forced to accommodate same-sex “weddings.”
Matt Grubbs, the owner of Discover Annapolis Tours, is a born again Christian, and as such, he believes that the Bible clearly outlines that God created marriage to be between a man and woman. However, because the state of Maryland began recognizing same-sex relationships as of January 1st, Grubbs knew that he was faced with either having to accommodate unions that violate his faith or ending the services altogether. He decided to do the latter.
Heretofore, Grubbs had been using his trolley rides as transportation venues for weddings. Discover Annapolis Tours would pick up the wedding party at the house and transport them to the church, and then give them a ride back following the reception.
“It was the perfect start to a perfect day,” states one testimonial on the company’s website. “Thanks to your driver for the fun songs on the way to the chapel, and finally praise for your originality at beating hands down the boring limousine. According to my three year old granddaughter, ‘It was the best part!'”
Following Election Day, when Maryland’s homosexual “marriage” law passed by five percentage points, Grubbs made the decision to end the wedding services.
“[W]e used to do weddings until recently. But we’re a Christian-owned business, and we are not able to lend support to gay marriages,” he wrote to a prospective client last month. “And as a public accommodation, we cannot discriminate between gay or straight couples, so we had to stop doing all wedding transportation.”
Grubbs informed the Baltimore Sun that he will lose $50,000 a year because of his decision, but said that he would rather lose money than dishonor God.
He states that he would like Maryland residents to contact their local representatives and “request they amend the new marriage law to allow an exemption for religious conviction for the layperson in the pew.”
“The law exempts my minister from doing same-sex weddings, and the Knights of Columbus don’t have to rent out their hall for a gay wedding reception, but somehow my religious convictions don’t count for anything,” Grubbs lamented.
The question of whether businesses must accommodate behaviors and practices that violate their faith has become an increasing issue over the past year. As previously reported, a photographer in New Mexico was forced last June to pay a fine of $7,000 and advised by the New Mexico Court of Appeals that she must shoot homosexual “weddings” according to state law in spite of her Christian convictions. She had declined to assist two lesbians that were seeking her services for a same-sex ceremony.
“The owners of Elane Photography must accept the reasonable regulations and restrictions imposed upon the conduct of their commercial enterprise despite their personal religious beliefs that may conflict with these government interests,” Judge Tim Garcia wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.
A bed and breakfast outlet in Vermont was also fined $10,000 last August and shelled out an additional $20,000 in settlement funds surrounding prospective same-sex civil union ceremonies held on their property. They have since stopped hosting weddings on their property altogether.
Additionally, a t-shirt company in Kentucky recently lost its fight against the state Human Rights Commission after it had declined to print t-shirts for a homosexual pride event last year.
“I want the truth to come out — it’s not that we have a sign on the front door that says, ‘No Gays Allowed,’” Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals explained. “We’ll work with anybody. But if there’s a specific message that conflicts with my convictions, then I can’t promote that.”
Likewise, Grubbs states that he has no opposition to having homosexuals participate in his tours, but he cannot accommodate homosexual wedding activities, and does not wish to be entangled in a lawsuit like other businesses across the nation.
Discover Annapolis will continue offering general trolley tours, which include a visit to the city dock, the state house, various colonial mansions and Victorian homes, the Naval academy and more.