NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced April 6 it now will allow homosexual couples to exchange vows in its public wedding spots that previously were reserved for people with valid marriage licenses.
“Bottom line, our business is all about hospitality,” Donn Walker, a spokesman for Disney, told the Orlando Sentinel. “Our commitment at Disney is to welcome all guests in an inclusive environment and to make them feel respected. We think this is consistent with that long-standing policy.”
Disney hosts about 1,500 weddings each year, mostly through its Fairy Tale Wedding packages that include a ceremony at one of the parks’ marriage pavilions, Disney costumed characters at the reception and a ride in a horse-drawn, glass-enclosed carriage through the Disney property. Such packages can cost tens of thousands of dollars, The Washington Post reported.
“I think for years, Disney has reflected the values of America,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said. “Now, I think it could be argued they are trying to shape those values in a very radical way.”
Walker told the Sentinel that Disney’s policy change was not the result of a campaign by homosexual activists but was spurred by one homosexual couple’s request to purchase a wedding package.
“At the end of the day, they’re in business to make money,” Steve Smith, communications pastor at First Baptist Church in Orlando, told the Sentinel. “This is an untapped market for them, obviously. I’m not entirely surprised that Disney would make a fiduciary decision over a moral one.”
With the $28,000 average cost of a Disney wedding, just one homosexual ceremony a week would earn Disney another $1.5 million a year, Bob Witeck of a Washington-based public relations firm catering to homosexuals told the Sentinel.
“It’s a savvy business decision,” Witeck said.
Because “gay marriage” is not legal in Florida and California, the homosexual events won’t be marriage ceremonies but will be commitment ceremonies.
Disney has been considered a pioneer in the push to accept homosexuality in America, leading to an eight-year boycott by the Southern Baptist Convention that ended in 2005. The company began offering partner benefits to employees in 1996 and it has allowed thousands of homosexual tourists to mark Gay Days at its theme parks each spring.