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on the Hallmark aisle: Gay marriage cards

Published:

on the Hallmark aisle: Gay marriage cards

PORTLAND, Ore. - Most states don't recognize gay marriage � but now Hallmark does.

The nation's largest greeting card company is rolling out same-sex wedding cards � featuring two tuxedos, overlapping hearts or intertwined flowers, with best wishes inside. "Two hearts. One promise," one says.

Hallmark added the cards after California joined Massachusetts as the only U.S. states with legal gay marriage. A handful of other states have recognized same-sex civil unions.

The language inside the cards is neutral, with no mention of wedding or marriage, making them also suitable for a commitment ceremony. Hallmark says the move is a response to consumer demand, not any political pressure.

"It's our goal to be as relevant as possible to as many people as we can," Hallmark spokeswoman Sarah Gronberg Kolell said.

Hallmark's largest competitor, American Greetings Corp., has no plans to enter the market, saying its current offerings are general enough to speak to a lot of different relationships.

Hallmark started offering "coming out" cards last year, and the four designs of same-sex marriage cards are being gradually released this summer and will be widely available by next year. No sales figures were available yet.

"When I have shopped for situations like babies or weddings for gay friends I have good luck in quirky stores," said Kathryn Hamm, president of the Web site gayweddings.com.

"But if you are just in a generic store ... the bride and groom symbol or words are in most cards," she said. "It becomes difficult to find some that are neutral but have some style."

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that more than 85,000 same-sex couples in the United States have entered into a legal relationship since 1997, when Hawaii started offering some legal benefits to same-sex partners.

It estimates nearly 120,000 more couples will marry in California during the next three years � and that means millions of potential dollars for all sorts of wedding-industry businesses.

Hallmark, known more for its Midwest mores than progressive greetings, has added a wider variety lately. It now offers cards for difficulty getting pregnant or going through rehab.

It pulled a controversial card that featured the word "queer" in the punch line after it was criticized by some customers and gay magazine The Advocate last year. At any given time, Hallmark has 200 different wedding cards on the market, including some catering to interracial or inter-religious marriages and blended families.

The Greeting Card Association, a trade group, says it does not track how many companies provide same-sex cards but believes the number is expanding.

"The fact that you have someone like Hallmark going into that niche shows it's growing and signals a trend," said Barbara Miller, a spokeswoman for the association.

Rob Fortier, an independent card maker who runs his company, Paper Words, out of New York, added same-sex wedding cards to his mix after thinking about what he would want to receive.

"A lot of people think a gay greeting card needs a rainbow on it," Fortier said. "I don't want that."

But for some time, it was difficult to even find the words for what anyone wanted to say, he said.

His first card poked fun at the challenge. On the outside it featured lines that had been scratched out: "Congratulations on being committed!", "Congratulations on being unionized!" and, finally, "Congratulations on being domestically partnered!" The inside wished the couple congratulations on choosing to be together forever.

"It really comes down to language," he said.

John Stark, one of the three founders of Three Way Design in Boston, which makes gay-themed cards for occasions from adoption to weddings, has several new designs sketched out and ready.

Entry #696

Comments

1.
justxploringComment by justxploring - August 21, 2008, 1:36 pm
Well, I'm relieved to learn Bert & Ernie are straight. It's tough enough going through the world as a puppet with someone's hand up your.... oops.   :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqcYJzc6lKw&feature=related
2.
Comment by scorpio - August 21, 2008, 2:24 pm
to each his own but has anyone thought,if their parents were gay,they wouldn't be here now.
3.
TenajComment by Tenaj - August 21, 2008, 3:08 pm
In today's economy more and more companies are going to the gay market or audiences that they never considered before. It's about money.
4.
truecriticComment by truecritic - August 22, 2008, 5:53 am
I'll never buy Hallmark cards again.
5.
Comment by Gentlespirit - August 22, 2008, 7:01 am
The moral fabric of our society is slowly being chipped away...and one day we will fall!!! Rome fell.
6.
justxploringComment by justxploring - August 22, 2008, 1:43 pm
Tenaj, I agree. Especially since the internet introduced virtual cards.
I stopped buying Hallmark cards a long time ago, but not for political reasons. I really don't care what 2 people do in the privacy of their own homes. Sure I don't think it's "normal" but I'll leave that judgment up to a higher power. But getting back to cards, more than 10 years ago I started buying them in a store where they only sold cards & stationery. Call me cheap, but they're very nice and cost no more than $0.50. each. We also have a store called the Dollar Tree that sells cards 2 for $1. (yes, I know that's 50 cts a piece. lol)   Not everything at the dollar store is a big bargain (and they carry a lot of junk) but often I buy the same items I see elsewhere for much more. I mean, if you are buying a card that has someone else's words written on it in the first place, what's the difference? I always thought greeting cards were a rip-off. Sometimes I look for a pretty blank card & write my own sentiments. I'm not gay, but I guess if I were I could send one like:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
You've got a vagina
And I've got one too.
Since the law has changed,
We'll now live in marital bliss.
So lend me a tampon,
And give me a kiss.
I just have one question,
Since we're together for life.
Which one of us is the husband,
And which one is the wife?


7.
Coin TossComment by Coin Toss - August 22, 2008, 7:01 pm
Justx

Are you a writer for Ellen Degeneres? You should be!

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