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Company drops service, skirts same-sex law

Dec. 26, 2012 at 5:06 PM

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Dec. 26 (UPI) -- A trolley company owner has dropped a popular service for newlyweds, saying his Christianity does not allow him to comply with Maryland's same-sex marriage law.

The Civil Marriage Protection Act, signed into law in March and upheld in a November voter referendum, allows same-sex couples to marry while protecting churches from being forced to perform such marriages. It is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

Matt Grubbs, owner of Discover Annapolis Tours, told a potential client in an email he was discontinuing the newlywed tour, an iconic feature of the nuptial tradition in the state capital, The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday.

Grubbs told Chris Belkot last month the company is "a Christian-owned business, and we are not able to lend support to gay marriages. And as a public accommodation, we cannot discriminate between gay or straight couples, so we had to stop doing all wedding transportation."

The decision means Grubbs will give up about $50,000 in annual revenue, the newspaper said.

Grubbs suggested to Belkot that Marylanders urge lawmakers to amend the law "to allow an exemption for religious conviction for the layperson in the pew."

Belkot, 31, said in response to Grubbs' email: "It is your right to run your business any way you see fit, but let's be honest here, you drive a trolley up and down a street. Not exactly God's work."

The Maryland Wedding Professionals Association said Grubbs' company is the second to skirt the new law by dropping a service, but Equality Maryland said the decision appears to be an isolated case, the newspaper reported.

"As long as he doesn't discriminate against other people, he's free to do whatever he wants to do, including withdrawing his business from the industry," executive director Carrie Evans said.

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