The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Gay Oases in VA’s Desert of Discrimination

Before the November elections, I posted several times about Virginia’s pending anti-gay marriage amendment and how it was affecting gay couples there, including a lesbian couple that moved to Maryland, other gay couples leaving the state, and one organization canceling a conference in Virginia. It’s a little early to tell whether those who joined the Exodus were made wise choice or were jumping the gun, since the amendment hasn’t faced legal challenge yet (though a Virginia court ruling in a lesbian custody case doesn’t inspire confidence), but it’s nice to see that that gays are welcome at some places Virginia.

This is, after all, the place where, in November, 58 percent of voters favored a ban on same-sex marriage. It’s also the home of the seven Episcopal parishes opposed to the consecration of a gay bishop that broke ties with the U.S. Episcopal Church in December. In recent months, some Virginia gays reportedly have decided to move to more accepting locales.

Still, there are accommodations that offer same-sex couples, gays with families or gay singles a comfortable escape for an overnight stay or weekend. Although no public facility can lawfully discriminate against guests based on sexual orientation, some warm more easily than others to two men (or women) checking in together. It was no shock that Charlottesville, base of the University of Virginia and a liberal stronghold that voted solidly blue in the last election, would be home to a guesthouse with a loyal gay clientele. But there is also a small network of bed-and-breakfasts in other corners of the commonwealth that actively promote themselves to gay and lesbian travelers. Some are gay-owned, others not. After contacting several hoteliers, we came up with a list — by no means comprehensive — of inns where a same-sex couple would have no qualms holding hands in the lobby or showing up together at breakfast.

OK. So it’s a college town, where you’d expect people to be more tolerant. (Assuming that tolerance is a by-product of education.) Our family rarely ventures into Virginia, but it’s nice to know that there are pockets of acceptance should be choose to (or have to) venture into the state. It would be interesting, and worthwhile, to create lists of places like these in states that have similar amendments and make the available to gay couples, families, and supporters who want to spend their travel dollars in businesses where the owners support equality; like the Lakeway Hotel in Meade, Kansas — where locals harassed the owners for putting up a rainbow flag that was given to them by their son.

Maybe such a list or database already exists, but if not, someone should create it, establish some basic standards or requirements for businesses to be included, and invite the LGBT community to join in pledging to spend their vacation or travel dollars with those businesses. Even if you’re not likely to vacation in Virginia or Kansas, if you’re visiting family or on a business trip and need a hotel, or a restaurant, etc., you could give priority to gay-friendly businesses over others, and know you’re supporting a business (and business owners) who support equality. (And you can ask for a double bed without getting the “fish eye” from the hotel clerk.)

Like I said, maybe this is already being done. The Washington Post story just made me think that we should be making it a point to reward support like this, if we aren’t already.

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