NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Thousands of visitors roll into New Orleans this week for Southern Decadence: five days of celebration of gay culture in a city now being promoted by tourism officials as a honeymoon site for same-sex newlyweds - despite the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage.
"It just shows the dichotomy between what business knows in the state and what our political leaders think," said gay rights activist John Hill. "Obviously, the business community in New Orleans knows that the gay travel market, the honeymoon destination, is a big market.
Southern Decadence runs through the Labor Day weekend and helps fill hotel rooms - an estimated 37,000 in New Orleans and its suburbs - at a typically slow time in the tourist season. This year's festival follows the Supreme Court's overturning of key parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and coincides with a social media campaign by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau targeting 13 states where same-sex marriage is legal.
"Gay and lesbian couples want to do what everyone else wants to do, which is listen to great music, go to bars and night clubs, get some of the best food in the world and enjoy our culture," bureau spokeswoman Kelly Schulz said.
To let them know they are welcome, the bureau has launched a social media campaign.
"We are focusing on Facebook now because it is more targeted and cost-effective compared to magazines or TV," Schulz said. The campaign includes a contest, launching Sunday, giving away a trip for two to New Orleans.
A SWAT team has arrived at a Phoenix hospital after a gunman barricaded himself inside the facility's emergency room, according to police.
Phoenix Police Sgt. Trent Crump said the suspect is contained in a bathroom inside Phoenix Baptist Hospital’s emergency room, and authorities are currently in negotiations with him to surrender, Fox 10 News reports.
Crump said the man, who is believed to be in his 40s, entered the hospital around 2 a.m. Monday morning.
Crump said the suspect brandished a knife as police approached him.