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Travel industry leaps to lure gay newlyweds: 12 good honeymoon spots

June 26, 2013|By Christopher Reynolds
  • San Francisco, long a hot spot for LGBT travelers, is hoping to gain some wedding and honeymoon business in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriages in California. The Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street is one of the city's most visible landmarks.
San Francisco, long a hot spot for LGBT travelers, is hoping to gain some… (Christopher Reynolds /…)

Here come the brides. And grooms. And honeymoons.

In the wake of Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing California to resume same-sex marriages, the race is on to lure LGBT travelers looking for post-wedding trips.

Within hours of the announcement, San Francisco’s visitors bureau and at least one hotel there were sending out releases courting honeymooners. Other travel professionals were naming destinations likely to pick up business.

Bottom line: This could be good for Europe and maybe parts of Latin America too.

But that doesn’t mean picking an itinerary is simple. Beyond the patchwork of varying state laws in the U.S., more than 70 nations continue to consider same-sex relationships illegal.

First, likely spots. For LGBT travelers, “Argentina is a very hot destination,” said David Rubin, a 17-year travel agent who owns DavidTravel in Corona del Mar.

Rubin, whose clientele is almost evenly split between straight and gay travelers, estimates that he’s planned 100 LGBT honeymoons, destination weddings and commitment ceremonies.

Another emergent destination, he said, is Colombia, now that worries over drug-cartel violence are fading.

Beyond that, “Italy is always hot. Paris is always hot. From the West Coast, Hawaii, “ Rubin said.  Another popular spot is southern Africa and “the dream of going on safari,” he said.

He added, “The gay honeymoon at this point in time is still quite different from the straight honeymoon” -- because so many LGBT couples are older, have been together longer and are further along in their careers.

That kind of couple, Rubin said, is likely to take a longer trip and spend more money than a pair of young newlyweds (straight or gay) who are still getting to know each other, have less travel under their belt and might spend much of their time in their hotel room.

For longtime gay couples, Rubin said, honeymoons may look a lot like “bucket list” trips -- destinations like Antarctica, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Bhutan, maybe even Russia or China.

(That’s 11 destinations, if you’re keeping score at home.)

Meanwhile, by the count of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Trans and Intersex Assn. in Geneva, 76 countries are still "criminalizing same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults." In a May 13 report on "state-sponsored homophobia," the group cited 14 nations in which same-sex couples can marry.

With the report came a color-coded map showing Canada and Argentina as the largest swatches of dark green (signifying legal same-sex marriage) on the planet.

The U.S. and Russia are colored a paler green to indicate national laws that are a “clearly inferior substitute” for same-sex marriage.  

There are several dark-green states in western Europe -- in fact, a pair of honeymooners could journey from Spain through France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden without ever leaving dark-green territory.

South Africa has a lonely patch of green, as well, but many of its African neighbors are heavily orange and red (denoting prison sentences for same-sex couples).

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Mauritania are shaded a darker red, indicating the death penalty. But not every destination in the Muslim world gets that ranking. Jordan, for one, stands out as a pale green oasis, and was hailed by last year as “a great gay destination.” (Call it good place No. 12.)

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