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Shocking news came from the "Happiest Place on Earth," on Friday, as Disney announced that all couples, both gay and straight, can now purchase the "Fairy Tale Wedding" package at Disneyland and on Disney cruise ships.
According to the Associated Press, "The company said it made the change after being contacted by a gay couple who wanted to use the wedding service, which offers ceremonies at Disneyland in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disney's cruise ships."
Spokesman for Disney Parks and Resorts, Donn Walker, explained, "We are not in the business of making judgments about the lifestyle of our guests...We are in the hospitality business, and our parks and resorts are open to everyone."
Although the news is suprising, coming from a staple of the stereotypical "American Family Day Out," the Walt Disney Company has actually been a supporter of gay tourism for years. In the past, it offered controversial partner benefits for homosexual employees and in the 90s, rightwing groups protested against annual "Gay Days," when more than 100,000 gay and lesbian couples were allowed to visit Disney resorts.
The company claimed its original policy of heterosexual wedding packages only, was based on laws in Florida and California prohibiting same-sex unions. However, after the gay website, AfterElton.com pressured Disney, it dropped its requirement that "Fairy Tale Wedding" packages, which start at $8,000, must include a valid marriage license. Michael Jensen, editor of AfterElton.com, challenged that even though same-sex wedding ceremonies are not legally recognized, there are no laws prohibiting gay couples from holding their ceremonies. He argued, "Elton John, who had a civil union with his partner, David Furnish, last year in England, would have been turned away from Disney's wedding gates," reminding Disney that the pop star had earned the company millions of dollars with his music for The Lion King.
Jensen continued, "I congratulate Disney...Everyone should get in touch with Disney to thank them for this change as I have no doubt at all that the homophobes will be out in droves screaming that Disney's treatment of gay and lesbian couples somehow discriminates against their religious beliefs."