December 18, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Eastern Shore inn to host Jan. 1 same-sex weddings

Tracy Staples, Bob Zuber, Black Walnut Point Inn, Maryland, gay marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, gay news, Washington Blade

Tracy Staples and Bob Zuber, co-owners of the Black Walnut Point Inn in Tilghman Island, Md., are among the couples who will get married at the Eastern Shore resort on Jan. 1. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Staples and Bob Zuber)

More than a dozen same-sex couples are expected to get married at a gay-owned inn on Maryland’s Eastern Shore on the first day gays and lesbians can legally tie the knot in the state.

Bob Zuber and Tracy Staples, who have owned the Black Walnut Point Inn on Tilghman Island for two and a half years, told the Washington Blade on Monday eight couples have booked Jan. 1 weddings on the property. Zuber said there’s a “whole bunch of other couples that are thinking about it, talking about it.”

Two If By Sea Café will host a pre-wedding brunch before the couples exchange vows at the Black Walnut Point Inn. The gay-owned Tilghman Island Inn will host a post-wedding reception, dinner and cake cutting for the couples.

Zuber and Staples, who have been together for six years and had registered to get married in D.C., will tie the knot on Jan. 1. They are the second same-sex couple to obtain a marriage license in Talbot County after clerks began issuing them to gays and lesbians on Dec. 6.

“We knew we were coming out here,” Zuber said. “We wanted to wait until Maryland did it and then wanted to be the first ones to get married here.”

Zuber said two lesbian couples are scheduled to get married at the inn in March. He and Staples have received additional inquiries from across the country.

“The whole entire island community is behind this,” Staples said. “They’re not against us. No one is saying ‘No, you can’t come down here.’ or ‘No, we’re not going to participate in same-sex [marriage.]’ The entire island is like, ‘Oh great, when is this going to happen? What can we do to help?’”

Attorney General Doug Gansler wrote on Nov. 29 that same-sex couples could begin to legally marry in Maryland on Jan. 1 – several are planning to tie the knot just after midnight on New Year’s Day. These include a group of same-sex couples in Cumberland and Ellicott City residents Dale Knight and Jeff Arney who discussed their wedding plans with the Blade last week.

“We try to create a gay-friendly place on Tilghman Island,” David McCallum, owner of the Tilghman Island Inn, said. “We all cooperate on the island to create an atmosphere and to give people choices. It’s certainly something I think has been a long-time coming and I think it’s pretty exciting that Maryland actually affirmed this in referendum. I expected eventually that it was going to have to be a Supreme Court ruling, but it’s sort of nice to know that the world has changed this much.”

An Annapolis tour company earlier this month announced it will no longer take part in weddings because of the same-sex wedding law, but Staples said Tilghman Island residents and businesses continue to welcome nuptials for gays and lesbians in Maryland.

“When we got wind of that, the entire island was like wow, that’s really interesting,” he said. “Why go where you’re tolerated. Come here where you’re celebrated.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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