Marriage amendment fallout hits local tourism

By on May 10, 2012

Almost immediately after the results were announced of Tuesday’s statewide referendum on a Constitutional amendment that defines marriage, threats started to emerge that out-of-state visitors were going to start heading elsewhere.

In the 24 hours after the amendment passed overwhelmingly with 61 percent of 2.1 million votes, The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce fielded calls and e-mails from regular visitors who say they have made their last trip to the state.

In Dare County, the amendment was voted down by 51 percent of the voters.

“Our phone rang continuously (Wednesday) but was quieter (Thursday),” said OBX Chamber vice president for media relations Angie Brady-Daniels.

“Other companies in the area are receiving similar complaints,” Brady-Daniels said.

“I understand that rental house contracts once signed are binding, but some have even commented that they will buy gas, groceries and supplies at the Virginia line in order to reduce the amount of spending they do on their vacation and the tax dollars our state receives,” Brady-Daniels added.

The constitutional amendment defines marriage between one man and one woman as the only valid domestic legal union in North Carolina.

Brady-Daniels said that all of the calls and emails mentioning the amendment to the Chamber have been negative.

“After a tough fall and winter of dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, discussions over ferry taxes, beach closures, beach driving permits, game fish regulations, state budget cuts to our local attractions, and even challenges with building the bridges and road structures we need, this is just another challenge at a difficult time for one of the few remaining strong industries in our state,” Brady-Daniels said.

Visit North Carolina on Facebook, run by the state Department of Commerce’s Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development, logged 878 comments on the issue. An administrator admonished visitors to refrain from foul language and reminded them that the site was intended for discussions about travel, not politics.

Here are some excerpts of e-mails sent to The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce following the passage of the amendment:

• “My wife and I met in graduate school while attending the College of William and Mary. We took a number of trips to the Outer Banks, and enjoyed each better than the last. After graduation, we moved to upstate New York. Though quite a distance away, we have continued to visit whenever possible. But that has changed with the vote in North Carolina yesterday. We will not be visiting the Outer Banks or any other area of the state until this marriage inequality amendment is repealed…I hope to be able to visit your beautiful state in the near future, but until then my family will enjoy the wonders of Cape Cod. “

• “We just wanted to let you know that we have stopped planning our family reunion for next fall in Duck…our family had a teleconference this afternoon (including 99-year-old grandma/great and great-great grandma who grew up in Manteo)…we came together as a family and decided to spend our hard-earned (money) on Cape Cod, MA for obvious reasons.”

• “Your beautiful Outer Banks will not be seeing one penny from this family (and our friends who will be receiving a similar letter). At our last family reunion, I believe we spent upwards of $70K for one weekend in September.”

• “This email is so you know why we’re boycotting your state. We will also no longer do any furniture shopping in High Point. We will no longer charter fishing boats for blues. Your state no longer exists for us.”

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