BEIJING, April 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Disneyland has opened its gates for the first time to same-sex partnership ceremonies.
Now, for the first time, gay and lesbian couples can performtheir commitment ceremonies anywhere on Disney property, a privilege heterosexual couples have enjoyed for decades.
"We are not in the business of making judgments about the lifestyle of our guests," said Donn Walker, spokesman for Disney Parks and Resorts. "We are in the hospitality business, and our parks and resorts are open to everyone."
The new policycame after complaints that gay couples were specifically excluded from the Fairy Tale Weddings program at Disney's theme parks in California and Florida, and on its cruise liners. While others had a wide choice of marriage options, such as taking their vows on a white-knuckle ride or beneath a fireworks show with Minnie Mouse as a bridesmaid, gay couples had to organize their own private ceremonies in rented meeting rooms at resort hotels.
The Walt Disney Company has long been a tacit supporter of gay tourism. It has come under fire from the religious right for policies that include partner benefits for homosexual employees. In the 90s, rightwing groups held protests against the annual "Gay Days," when more than 100,000 gay and lesbian visitors visit Disney resorts.
The company blamed its weddings policy on laws in Florida and California prohibiting same-sex unions. But after pressure from the gay website afterelton.com, it dropped its requirement that Fairy Tale Weddings packages, which start at 8,000 U.S. dollars, have to include a valid marriage licence.
"This is consistent with our policy of creating a welcoming, respectful and inclusive environment for all of our guests," Walker said.