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Keith Fleming and Albert Stumm got married last October at the Penn Museum, one of three same-sex weddings that the museum hosted in the past year

Credit: Matthew Hall , Courtesy of Matthew Hall Photography

With Pennsylvania’s legalization of gay marriage last year, Penn is hoping that more same-sex couples will use the school’s facilities to say “I do.”

On Jan. 25, sales representatives from the Perelman Quadrangle and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology attended the Philadelphia Same-Sex Wedding Planning Exposition. Their goal: to promote Penn’s event spaces as venues for LGBT weddings.

Over 300 same-sex couples attended the exposition to seek florists, photographers, venues and more. This was the largest same-sex wedding expo in the country, and all participating businesses promote themselves as LGBT friendly.

The Penn Museum has been working to expand its clientele to encompass same-sex couples since last year, when the sales staff attended its first Marriage Equality Expo. Back then, same-sex marriage was not legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. After the legalization of same sex marriage on May 20, however, the Penn Museum has increased advertising in the Philadelphia Gay News.

“I knew that eventually same sex marriage would be legal,” Penn Museum’s Facilities and Rentals Manager Atiya German said. “It was important for us to become a venue that was more accepting. It just meant so much more this year with the legalization.”

The Penn Museum has hosted three same-sex weddings in the past year and has two more on the books. German added that because the Penn Museum is on the University’s campus, the facility’s participation in the exposition is telling of Penn’s increased support of same-sex weddings.

“I think with [same-sex marriage] being legalized, people are feeling more comfortable with their partners,” German said. “I think we have to be accepting of them and supporting of their love and this translates to the University itself.”

The Perelman Quad’s Director of Sales Veronica Kraft and Executive Director of Facilities Thomas Hauber consulted with Bob Schoenberg, director of the LGBT Center, on how to approach prospective LGBT clientele. Previously, the Perelman Quad’s flyer promoting its facilities only featured pictures of heterosexual couples. Schoenberg thought that it would be important to alter the advertisements to better attract the LGBT couples at the expo.

Schoenberg noted that the Perelman Quad has been consistent in its support and collaboration with the LGBT Center. This help has primarily included providing the LGBT Center with venues for past events.

Schoenberg, who has been in contact with Kraft, said that there were promising visits to the booth at the event on Sunday.

“What is noteworthy is not that the quad was LGBT-friendly, but that they promoted themselves to an outside vendor [as LGBT-friendly],” Schoenberg said. “It shows how deep and widespread the commitment of the University is to the LGBT community both at Penn and the wider LGBT community in Philadelphia.”

Members of the Lambda Alliance are happy to see the University increase its outreach efforts towards LGBT couples.

College Junior and Lambda Alliance Chair Erich Kessel recognized the importance of the facilities’ outward support to the LGBT community. “I think it is important that there is a public and very frank acceptance of queer people. It is exciting to hear that facilities are doing what they can to support [them].”

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