The rapid increase in the number of states permitting gay marriages has crushed demand for commitment ceremonies, a legally meaningless alternative many of the resorts and chapels have offered. DeCar and Flint, who has owned the Chapel of the Bells in Reno for 51 years, said such bookings have plummeted since California resumed same-sex marriages following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision last June. “We don’t get the same amount of committal ceremonies because the real thing is so available,” Flint said. “It collapsed overnight.”
Some travel agents have tried with little success to take advantage of legal marriage in neighboring states. Terry Wilsey of A Answer On Travel said he gave up on an idea to drive same-sex couples from Las Vegas to the California state line 40 miles away for ceremonies on the California side of a golf course that straddles the state line. Aside from the fact that transportation costs are prohibitive, Wilsey also discovered the closest place to obtain a California marriage license was in Barstow, another 115 miles away.
State Sen. David Parks, Nevada’s first openly gay elected official and someone who has made a career of pushing for pro-gay laws, said an important business opportunity may already have passed. “The train left the station and we’re still standing on the platform,” Parks said. “I don’t see that we’re likely to recover that.”