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Same-Sex Ruling Drives Wedding Business in Calif.

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Same-Sex Ruling Drives Wedding Business in Calif.


Same-Sex Ruling Drives Wedding Business in Calif.

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Now that they can, more than half of California's same-sex couples intend to get married. That's what a new study found by the Williams Institute at UCLA's law school. And some plan to tie the knot next week, when the state supreme court ruling goes into force that legalizes gay marriage.

As NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates reports, couples aren't the only ones looking forward to the big day.

(Soundbite of song, "Hooray for Hollywood")

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: This year's Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood had all the usual trimmings: floats, dopey hats and great bands playing familiar songs. But this year's parade had something last year's didn't: the reminder that soon, gay marriage will be legal.

Unidentified Man: We thank everyone for their support in our community of West Hollywood. And we're all going to get married on Tuesday, and everything's fabulous.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BATES: Beginning next Tuesday, same-sex couples can marry in the state of California. Many of the state's businesses are planning to serve the blissful couples - for a price, of course.

(Soundbite of car engine)

BATES: Cake and Art is a boutique bakery in West Hollywood that specializes in custom orders. Because it's in the heart of the area's gay community, Cake and Art has always had a substantial same-sex clientele. The gorgeous, four-tiered wedding cake in its window, for instance, is topped with two grooms.

Since the court's decision last month, Cake and Art's Cody Christensen says the phone has been ringing off the hook.

Mr. CODY CHRISTENSEN (Cake and Art): Already in the past couple weeks, when the ruling was announced that they're getting married, we've had, you know, lots of couples already coming in. It's nice.

BATES: Not every business is as enthusiastic, though. Christensen cites a lesbian couple who came from out of town to order their wedding cake.

Mr. CHRISTENSEN: Two ladies who, they went to bakers in their area, and they were actually turned away. And so they drove two hours to here from San Bernardino, and we were happy to help them.

BATES: Even when merchants are ready to cooperate, sometimes they have to retrofit their product to appeal to same-sex couples.

Ms. RENA PUEBLA (Co-owner, Renellie): Okay, perfect. That sounds great. And so he'll be able to work for the two hour time.

BATES: Wedding planner Rena Puebla is African-American. She wanted an interracial cake-topper when she and her Japanese-American fiance married five years ago. There were none.

Ms. PUEBLA: You know what? We ended up with two white doves. There was nothing that represent us as an interracial couple.

BATES: So three years ago, Puebla partnered with long-time friend Ellie Gennardi to form Renellie. It's a company that makes wedding-cake toppers in all kinds of ethnic combinations. Gennardi says they get so many interracial orders…

Ms. ELLIE GENNARDI (Co-owner, Renellie): When I get an order for two Caucasians, it's almost like, you know, my goodness gracious. This is very unusual.

BATES: The women's success with interracial figurines led to an interest in providing same-sex versions for gay and lesbian weddings. Gennardi picks up a stand with two women on it. One's in a traditional, full-skirted gown. The other's wearing a fitted jacket and a long, slim skirt.

Ms. GENNARDI: She's tailored. We call her the tailored bride.

BATES: Rena Puebla says she and Ellie Gennardi tried to get their cake-toppers listed on Macy's bridal registry a few years ago with no success. But, Puebla says, last month's court ruling brought a sudden change of heart. Macy's took out a full-page ad in several markets recently, inviting gay couples to register with them.

Ms. PUEBLA: Now they have a million-dollar ad page in the newspaper saying that they're open to, you know, all the gay marriages.

BATES: All it took was the prospect of snagging some of the $684 million same-sex couples are expected to add to the state's wedding industry. Rena Puebla says some businesses want the money, but they're hesitant.

Ms. PUEBLA: They don't want to be the first one to touch the waters because they feel there's a controversy here.

BATES: With the state drowning in red ink, an infusion of cash from gay weddings might prove to be a life-saver. Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.

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