Discover Annapolis Tours, a fixture in Maryland’s capital since 1984, was famous for trolley weddings and tours of Annapolis. Making Annapolis a wedding destination city.
Until January 1, 2013.
Enter the Civil Marriage Protection Act. Approved by 52.4% of voters in a statewide referendum on November 6, 2012. Hailed by gay activists as a watershed moment for gay rights. The first time marriage rights in the U.S. had been extended to same-sex couples by popular vote. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Maryland
It also became a watershed moment for Discover Annapolis Tours.
Owner Matt Grubbs, a Christian, decided to cease providing wedding services of any kind. To avoid violating the new law, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public accommodation.
This one decision cost Matt’s company about $50,000 in annual revenue. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/26/discover-annapolis-tours-gay-marriage-opposition_n_2365612.html
Matt’s business decision might have gone unnoticed, had it not been for an email he sent to a prospective client, Chris. In late 2012, she had inquired about booking transportation for her dream wedding in 2013.
When Matt told her he was no longer doing any wedding business, Chris asked why. His email answered her question:
We used to do weddings until recently. But we’re a Christian-owned business, and we are not able to lend support to gay marriages. And as a public accommodation, we cannot discriminate between gay or straight couples, so we had to stop doing all wedding transportation. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/26/discover-annapolis-tours-gay-marriage-opposition_n_2365612.html
Chris had made the inquiry for herself and her partner, Claire. Further reporting quoted additional excerpts from Matt’s email:
“If you live in Maryland, you might contact your senator and three delegates in the General Assembly and request they amend the new marriage law to allow an exemption for religious conviction for the lay person 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.” https://www.eyeonannapolis.net/2012/11/annapolis-tour-company-turns-away-business-because-of-gay-marriage/
Chris responded to Matt’s email: “It is your right to run your business any way you see fit, but let’s be honest here, you drive a trolley up and down a street. Not really God’s work.” https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2012/12/maryland-trolley-business-opts-out-of-weddings-to-avoid-same-sex-couples/
What is God’s work? And how are Christians to approach it?
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for human masters… It is the Lord you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
One reporter suggested Matt’s actions, as one business owner, might cause Annapolis as a whole to be seen as “anti-gay” or “gay-unfriendly.” Concluding “… personal convictions (religious, sexual, political) should not be intertwined with business.” https://www.eyeonannapolis.net/2012/11/annapolis-tour-company-turns-away-business-because-of-gay-marriage/
June 6, 2017. Discover Annapolis Tours’ website announced: “Introducing Wedding Tours!” http://www.discover-annapolis.com/experiences/
A change of ownership? A change of heart?
More important questions:
Should business owners be required to ignore or deny their religious convictions when they are doing business? Is this even possible?
What value do you attach to your deeply-held beliefs?
How much money (business revenue) would you accept (protect) to abandon yours?
Please post your comments below.
Diana Furr, a.k.a. Abba’s Girl
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