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With Wedding On The Line Plaintiffs Prep For SameSex Marriage Challenge

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first_imgFive gay couples are behind the lawsuit challenging Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage. The suit was filed Monday in federal court. And in this case, the political is especially personal.Download AudioCourtney Lamb is in the early stages of planning her wedding.“I’ve asked people to be like, you know, bridesmaids. And I have my veil and my shoes.”She has ideas for a dress, too. For a location, she’s thinking Girdwood. And when it comes to the reception, Lamb wants it to be more fun than traditional.(Courtesy Stephanie Pearson)“Like I want a cupcake tower, not like a big eight-tier cake,” says Lamb.There’s just one big wrinkle: Lamb doesn’t know if the state will allow her to marry her fiancée by their wedding date.She and her partner Stephanie Pearson are one of five gay couples fighting an Alaska ban on same-sex marriage. Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal government must recognize gay marriages, judges all across the country have decided state-level bans are unconstitutional. On Wednesday, Idaho’s ban was struck down. The same thing happened last week in Arkansas. Oklahoma, Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas have all seen similar decisions from the federal courts this year.Lamb thinks there’s a good shot that gay marriage could be legal in Alaska — and even nationwide — by next May.“We’re planning our wedding, and if this goes through and it’s legal by the time we have all of our plans finalized, then that’s wonderful,” says Lamb. “And if not, then we will have a big party with our friends and still celebrate ourselves and our relationship.”Fellow plaintiffs Matt Hamby and Chris Shelden are on the opposite sides of the spectrum. They’ve already been married — twice.The first time was in 2008, in Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legal for nearly a decade.“We were married outdoors, and that time of year it was raining a lot, so we took a lot of umbrellas with us,” says Shelden.Matthew Hamby and Chris Shelden in 2012. (Photo by Chris Hamby)They read their vows again this Christmas Eve, this time in Utah. A judge had ruled against the state’s marriage ban that week, and the couple was already there visiting family. So, they took advantage of the moment.“Of course, when you fill out the license, you have to state that you’re not married,” says Hamby. “So, of course I said, ‘Well, we are married. We’ve been married since 2006 in Canada.’ And she says, ‘Well, as long as you’re marrying the same person, it’s okay.’”That’s when they realized the possibility for Alaska.“I think that we saw that if Utah could see that change, that Alaska’s constitutional amendment was probably unconstitutional before the United States Constitution, too,” says Shelden. “It really did give us hope.”Hamby and Shelden have been a couple for nearly a decade, and they’ve lived in Alaska longer than that. Shelden moved here in 1994. Hamby came up in 1997, right before voters adopted the first gay marriage ban in the country.HAMBY: I thought it was almost devastating. It seemed like I was moving to a place that was creating a different tier of status for gay people.SHELDEN: Yeah, you feel like do you even want to stay, but we love Alaska and we don’t really have any desire to be anywhere else. And yet we don’t feel like we’re protected. We don’t feel like we have the same rights as other people. We don’t feel like we can take care of each other properly.It’s more than just a social stigma, they say. They wanted to get a specific title on their house for legal purposes, but they can’t because their marriage is not recognized.Hamby says there’s just a greater burden placed on them when dealing with state government.“Straight couples just have to check a box and put a name and social security number on there and say they’re married,” says Hamby.Gay couples have to provide an affidavit and have a handful of legal documents like vehicle registrations and wills ready to go to prove they’re together.Shelden says if their legal challenge is successful, that would be a thing of the past. And he thinks having legal recognition matters for the gay community, especially its younger members.“For the security of our relationship, it’s not that important. For our ability to take care of each other, it is important,” says Shelden. “But I think this is more important than us.”The State of Alaska is expected to defend the marriage ban in court.Opinion in Alaska has recently been shifting toward gay marriage. According to a survey released by Public Policy Polling on Wednesday, 52 percent of Alaskans favor gay marriage, while 43 percent oppose it. Last year, the numbers were essentially flipped.last_img read more

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Personal Travel Manager demonstrates expertise at Seniors Expo

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first_imgPersonal Travel Manager demonstrates expertise at Seniors Expo TravelManagers’ personal travel manager Pamela Bass (left) with Millie Browne, Sales Development Manager, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours at Toronto Seniors Week Expo at the Toronto Workers ClubPersonal Travel Manager demonstrates expertise at Seniors ExpoThe decision to focus on the seniors market has proved a success in more ways than one, for TravelManagers’ personal travel manager Pamela Baas representative for Wallsend.Initially inspired by seeing an article from a local member of parliament to hold a Seniors Expo in her area, the New South Wales personal travel manager didn’t realise that from this proactive enquiry, an exciting adventure with the seniors travel market was about to begin.“I know the seniors have the time and money to travel a lot. They also love to live life, meet new people and experience all that they didn’t get to do when they were younger. The really nice thing too is that they also like to explore our backyard including places like Norfolk Island and Tasmania as well as travelling further afield.”Baas has wholeheartedly embraced the seniors market taking many marketing opportunities to grow awareness within her local community of her specialisation into the seniors travel market.“I have attended many expos including the Toronto Seniors Week Expo, the NSW Seniors Week Festival and even taken a stand for a few days at my local shopping centre, the Stocklands Wallsend Plaza. I also sponsor the bowls team at The Cove Village, one of the largest and fastest growing lifestyle villages in my area where I advertise on all of the drink holders around the greens. The seniors in my area are definitely starting to know my name as being the seniors travel expert which is fantastic.”Baas truly understands the needs of seniors travel requirements.“I assess what each of their individual physical abilities are and then tailor make the holiday to suit. Some prefer the routine of organised tours whilst others just love to experience another culture yet want the peace of mind that everything is organised for them. As long as they have a day or two to get over the flight and a few extra days of leisure in the middle and a not too fast paced itinerary, they are happy. It’s the little things that make all the difference and I just love making sure all these finer details are in place to ensure they have a hassle free and truly enjoyable holiday experience.”Executive General Manager – Michael GazalTravelManagers’ Executive General Manager Michael Gazal says, “We applaud the way Pamela has focused on a growing need within her community. This innovative thinking epitomizes TravelManagers’ philosophy of personal travel managers utilising their skills and expertise to provide the ultimate travel experience for their customers. We recognize each personal travel manager has strengths in different areas and we actively support and encourage their individual focus on niche markets to further grow their businesses.”Baas’ success can be attributed to her clear focus and innovative, outside the square thinking.“The key is being innovative and fun. I recently held an afternoon tea wine and cheese event where a supplier spoke as well as a local resident talking about their most recent travels. Some casual mix and mingle time followed to get to know the residents more. That was hugely successful in really connecting with potential clients.”Baas advises the support of the national partnership office is invaluable.“I have now been with TravelManagers for five and a half years and the encouragement and support I receive from the national partnership office and other personal travel managers is incredible. I don’t know of any other travel business where everyone wants everyone else to succeed and are willing to help each other to achieve individual goals. TravelManagers gives me flexibility and allows me to confidently focus solely on my love of selling travel and to provide expertise and exemplary customer service. Working against each other creates stress, anxiety and negativity. We choose to work together and create positivity, happiness and prosperity, you can’t ask for more than that.”The future certainly looks bright for the seniors in Wallsend.“I actually have my bus license, so it’s on the cards that in the not too distant future I will also organize day trips out for the residents, which both they and I are very excited about,” laughs Baas.For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599. Source = TravelManagers Australia Join TravelManagersbecome a personal travel manager todayAbout TravelManagersTravelManagers operates in all Australian States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Travel, Australasia’s largest independent travel company which has a forecast turnover of $1.5 billion for 2015. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 490 personal travel managers throughout Australia with a dedicated support team at the company’s national partnership office in Sydney. TravelManagers places all customer money in a dedicated and audited Client Trust Account which is separate from the general business accounts, ensuring client funds are only used for client purchases.last_img read more

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