Thousands of visitors roll into New Orleans the last week of August for Southern Decadence: five days of celebration of gay culture in a city now being promoted by tourism officials as a honeymoon site for same-sex newlyweds — despite the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.
“It just shows the dichotomy between what business knows in the state and what our political leaders think,” said gay rights activist John Hill. “Obviously, the business community in New Orleans knows that the gay travel market, the honeymoon destination, is a big market.”
Southern Decadence runs through the Labor Day weekend and helps fill hotel rooms — an estimated 37,000 in New Orleans and its suburbs — at a typically slow time in the tourist season. This year’s festival follows the Supreme Court’s overturning of key parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and coincides with a social media campaign by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau targeting 13 states where same-sex marriage is legal.