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Hawaii hotels welcome same-sex unions

The new year could bring Hawaii hotels a wave of same-sex marriage ceremonies.

At least, that’s what they’re hoping.

Many hotels in Maui especially, where there were 5,900 non-residential marriages in 2010, are specifically targeting same-sex couples now that a law went into effect Jan. 1 legalizing civil unions.

The Grand Wailea, for instance, is offering free iPads to the first 10 couples who sign up for civil union packages, according to The Maui News.

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A recent University of California-Los Angeles, study found that Iowa’s legalization of gay marriage in 2009 resulted in as much as $12 million additional tourism dollars, The Maui News pointed out.

Maui Hotel Lodging Association Executive Director Carol Reimann told Hotel Check-in that Maui has the most number of visitor marriages of any of the Hawaiian islands, and expects to see more same-sex marriages.

“We want to service all segments of the community, and we welcome everyone,” she told Hotel Check-in.

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That said, she pointed out that same-sex marriages in Hawaii won’t be recognized in home states that don’t have the same civil union law. “But I think a lot of people appreciate the fact that Hawaii recognizes it,” she said.

That hasn’t stopped hotels in New York from also catering to same-sex couples since civil unions became legal there in July.

At The Muse Hotel, for instance, concierge Marc Camacho got ordained as a minister shortly after the civil union law went into place. It took him about a week of studies, which the company supported by giving him time during the work day.

“It feels good knowing this is one of the things we can offer” guests, he said.

On Dec. 23, he performed his first civil union ceremony when two California residents checked into The Muse. They had had a ceremony planned in California before Proposition 8 was overturned, no longer making same-sex unions legal. They went ahead with the ceremony but wanted to make it legal in New York.

Camacho arranged all the details, re-creating their July California ceremony, down to the same German chocolate cake and cocktails.

Camacho said the hotel is getting more calls and e-mails from other same-sex couples looking to have their weddings or receptions there.

“This is getting us more excited to go down that route,” he said.

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