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Wedding contest canceled after rule excluding gay couples generates protest

Jessica Cuffman • Aug 19, 2013 at 1:40 PM

Organizers have said it could have a shot in November 2014, but the end game remains to be seen. For now, state law prevents gay couples from being legally married in Ohio, a rule that extends to the northern shoreline and Cedar Point.

Thus, the rules cited by the park in a shortly advertised — then canceled — contest for 13 couples to get married on the grounds during Friday the 13th for the opening of HalloWeekends. When Akron couple Scott Kenimond, 37, and Eric Morrison, 28, saw the original posting on the park’s blog, OnPoint, they thought they’d found their dream wedding — or at least ceremony, since they can’t legally be married in Ohio.

“He was elated. He was beside himself so happy,” Morrison said, in describing his partner’s demeanor. They’ve been engaged for a few months after meeting online, bonding over their love for roller coasters then dating for a year.

“It was one of the things that made me message him. First I thought, ‘He looks cute,’” Morrison said.

“My username was WickedTwister. He knew right away I was a fan,” he said.

The couple had been considering a Cedar Point wedding anyway. At first, the blog post was a sign. Then they read the fine print: Due to marriage laws in Ohio, weddings are limited to male-female couples only.

The post had advertised wedding ceremonies and a chance for already married couples to renew their vows, so the disclaimer didn’t make sense to Morrison and Kenimond. “It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not,” Morrison said. “You should be able to have a commitment ceremony. For God’s sakes, you’re getting married by a zombie.”

So they decided to take on the challenge, asking friends and strangers to Tweet at Cedar Point to allow gay couples to apply. Morrison made postings on two coaster blogs and reddit, and the response took off.

After some brief communication with park officials, however, it was over. Cedar Point simply decided to cancel the contest.

In response to questions for this story, the park offered a brief statement, clarifying there was no negative intent for the contest and it was meant to generate excitement for the kickoff of HalloWeekends. “When the promotion logistics started to take on political undertones, as indicated by several guests who gave us feedback, it was decided that now is not the best time for this event,” read a statement issued by park spokesman Bryan Edwards. “Cedar Point does not take any official stance on political issues,” it said. The park does offer opportunities outside of promotions for couples to have weddings, commitment ceremonies and other events at the park, he said.

“We encourage guests to contact us if they’re interested in planning such an event,” he said.

As someone who works in marketing, Morrison said he understood the strategy from a business standpoint — but he was disappointed by it. “For them, this was not a political commotion. It was simply to drum up interest for HalloWeekends and they had a stance where they chose not to choose a stance,” he said.

“I’m disappointed they would choose to go that way rather than stand behind their LGBT community,” he said. “Ultimately, they’re playing it safe. But it’s a cowardly choice.”

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