Baltimore Provides Free Planning Assistance For Same-Sex Weddings After Historic Maryland Vote

On Tuesday, when Maryland residents voted to uphold a law legalizing same-sex marriages, the city of Baltimore was ready. Just hours after the election results were in, Visit Baltimore unveiled a dedicated LGBT Wedding microsite, which provides resources for gay and lesbian couples looking to plan a wedding in the city.

“We encourage the LGBT community to visit Baltimore to celebrate their commitments to one another,” said Tom Noonan, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, in a press release. “As a city, we have long been proud to support the rights and equality of our visitors, and the legalization of same-sex marriage is another important step forward.”

Not only is Visit Baltimore extending a warm welcome to same-sex couples planning weddings, receptions and honeymoons, it’s also offering free assistance on tasks like securing marriage licenses, finding caterers and booking rooms at TAG-approved hotels, which are recognized for their non-discriminatory policies toward gay couples. The site also offers up suggestions for unique wedding venues, like the National Aquarium, the Maryland Zoo and the American Visionary Art Museum, with its selection of eccentric “outsider” artwork.

LGBT couples are welcome to apply for a Maryland marriage license starting on January 1, 2013. The Baltimore City license fee is $85, and the fee to be married by a court clerk is $25.[Photo Credit: Visit Baltimore]

Photo Of The Day: I Voted

It’s Election Day in America. If you haven’t yet voted, we suggest you shut down your computer and head to the nearest polling site. Not only will you be exercising your civic duty, you’ll even get a free “I Voted” sticker! This one, from Memphis, Tennessee, can score you sweet deals across the city, like free iced tea and Urban Outfitters discounts, not to mention legitimate street cred. Check out more “I Voted” stickers from across the country on DCist.Do you have any great photos from Election Day? Upload your shots to the Gadling Flickr Pool and your image could be selected as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user ilovememphis]

Nominees for’s Ecotourism Spotlight Award announced, a website dedicated to ecotourism and encouraging environmental conservation through tourism, has announced the nominees for its Ecotourism Spotlight Award. The Award honors the tourism boards that promote ecotourism through their websites, both by highlighting their own efforts and by helping travelers connect to independent tour providers who operate using sustainable practices.

The award was created in 2007 to encourage National Tourism Boards to promote ecotourism within their countries and to reward those who were doing so effectively. The winner in both 2007 and 2008 was Ecotourism Laos and the site is nominated again this year, along with Quito Visitors’ Bureau, Responsible Tourism Guide to the Mekong, and Failte Ireland.

The voting is open to the public on Planeta’s website and will continue through August 31. The winner will be announced on September 27, World Tourism Day. So cast your vote, and check out the sites to see what each is doing to promote ecotourism in its country.

Theatre in Branson, Missouri has “America’s Best Restroom”

Worst airports. Best hotels. Rating these things, I understand. But bathrooms? Yes, the Cintas Corporation recently sponsored an online vote for the best bathroom in America.

Apparently, it’s no longer good enough to offer a clean toilet (truly a luxury in some places, believe me), running water, towels and maybe a mirror for good measure. Nope, to compete in the race for best bathroom, you’ll need features like gilded chandeliers, marble fireplaces and 1,800 square feet of space. At least, that’s what the winning bathroom at the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre in Branson, Missouri offers….along with a hand-carved mahogany pool table.

I’m a get-in, get-out quickly kind of girl so I just don’t see the need for such luxurious facilities. But perhaps there really are some people who enjoy hanging out and playing a game of pool while waiting for the loo.

[via USA Today]

The remote vote

Absentee ballots are all the rage. Are you a remote voter? It’s not hard to vote, even when you’re traveling, if you plan ahead. But sometimes things go awry.

I still vote in Minnesota. It’s done and dusted – well, done and notarized. I was nervous, though, that my ballot wouldn’t arrive in sufficient time for me to fill it out and get it back to the Secretary of State’s office by tomorrow! As the days of last week drained away and the ballot still hadn’t arrived, I confessed to my roommate that if I couldn’t vote because my ballot never got here, I was probably going to lie about it to all my friends because I would be so ashamed and certain it was somehow my fault. Even though I totally requested the absentee ballot at the beginning of October.

It came. I voted. I swear.

Cue panic for those of you who are away from home and don’t have a ballot! Well, there may still be hope for you. Read on.

First of all, Google “absentee ballot” and the state in which you are registered. The rules vary by state, but in some cases, you can even fax your ballot, and you have until tomorrow!

Here’s an absentee voting FAQ and the link for those of you who requested a ballot and didn’t get one in time.

Now vote. I don’t wanna hear your “but I was in the Alps!” nonsense.

[via: Wired]