WI LGBT Chamber of Commerce says next month's "LGBT Wedding Expo" at capacity for vendors

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Supreme Court announced Monday it is staying out of the same-sex marriage debate — at least for now — rejecting requests from five states to immediately review their bans that prohibit gay and lesbian couples from civil wedlock. The rejected appeals originated from same-sex couples in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana. With Monday’s order, lower appeals court rulings striking down the bans could soon be enforced in those five states. That also means bans in all the other states covered by the three circuit appeals courts would also be invalidated. Those states include West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. Same-sex marriage would then be permitted in 30 states.

The Supreme Court's announcement Monday means Wisconsin same-sex couples can now begin planning their weddings. That could translate into millions of dollars for Wisconsin's wedding industry.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's announcement, the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce has announced it is sponsoring an LGBT Wedding Expo on November 13th.

The wedding expo will be held from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Radisson Milwaukee West by Mayfair Mall.

"We were all really excited and kind of anticipating that a decision would be made," Radisson Social Event Manager Brian Peterson said.

With nearly a month to go before the event, the LGBT Chamber of Commerce says it has already reached capacity with the number of vendors that can fit into the space -- and the Chamber says it has received countless calls from couples looking to plan their big day that want to do business with those that share their values.

"We've got a lot of great buzz around it.  Great vendors signed up for it already," Peterson said.

Unlike in early June, when couples rushed to county clerk's offices to marry, same-sex couples now have the chance to plan a wedding months in advance.

"Talking to different businesses and even people in the community, finally, finally this is happening," Peterson said.

"Today I already got give calls from individuals who once their heard about the decision, wanted to start planning their special day," Jason Rae, the executive director of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce said.

The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is expecting same-sex marriage to have an economic impact in the millions of dollars.

"In Illinois, they predicted with marraige equality they would get about $54 million to $103 million spent within the first three years alone on same-sex weddings," Rae said.

Hawaiian caterer Ono Kine Grinz is hoping to win some of that new business.

"I think it opens new horizons for catering businesses," David Lau with Ono Kine Grinz Catering said.

Ono Kine Grinz is already on the list of caterers for the LGBT Wedding Expo.

"This will be new for us too and we're excited about it. I think we all have a human need to be accepted and loved in society and I think that we'll all come out as a better person," Guy Roeseler with Ono Kine Grinz Catering said.

Jason Rae, executive director of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the appeal of Wisconsin’s discriminatory marriage amendment:

“Not only did the US Supreme Court affirm the right of all of Wisconsin’s citizens to marry who they love, the Court also paved the way to help strengthen our state’s economy. At the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, we are incredibly excited about the economic impact that this decision will have for our members and for our state economy as a whole.

In a short-term sense, the benefits are clear.  Weddings are very expensive, and an influx of marriages means a great deal of spending is happening all at once, and better yet it’s happening locally. A study done last year by the Williams Institute at UCLA predicted that marriage equality in Illinois would generate $54 to $103 million in new spending in the state over the first three years that marriage is allowed.

The providers of wedding flowers, food, music, and venues are all local, and likely small businesses.  Whereas our neighboring state used to benefit from Wisconsin same-sex couples travelling across the border to get married, now Wisconsin businesses reap the rewards of these nuptials, and the state keeps the sales tax revenues as well. While the exact numbers in Wisconsin are unclear, it is clear that same-sex marriage will bring a welcome boost to our state economy and tax rolls for years to come.

The immediate benefits of marriage equality provide millions of dollars of stimulus to local businesses, but the short-term benefits do not even begin to tell the whole story.  These new marriages create families in Wisconsin that will have a lasting, observable impact on our economy.

Marriage equality helps Wisconsin recruit and retain diverse talent. People want to move to and live in a place that is welcoming and accepting of who they are. In today’s global economy, potential employees could go anywhere they wanted. If we want to keep the best and brightest here in our state, showing our inclusivity through marriage equality is one way to do that.  Because of the federal decision, we don’t need to worry about people leaving Wisconsin and heading to Illinois or Minnesota where they can be respected in their entirety. This in and of it self is a key component of how we grow our business community. Having the best and brightest want to move here and work here is how we make sure our businesses thrive.

As Wisconsin’s LGBT families continue to grow and prosper, so too will our state economy.  We look forward to seeing marriage equality translate into a positive force for our economy and local businesses, and consequently giving our state the best of both worlds."