Uber Turns Gay Marriage Into A Marketing Stunt

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In honor of Pride weekend in San Francisco, Uber is cheapening the whole concept of marriage by letting you order a wedding on demand. Uber will pick up you and your significant other and rush you through the legal paperwork and ceremony, all in under an hour. The company might mean well, and the experience might even be fun, but the whole thing reeks of opportunism. Delivering kittens to cuddle is one thing. Marriage is just a wee bit more serious.

On Saturday from noon to 6pm in SF, no matter your sexual orientation, you’ll be able to order one of these abominations. Uber will provide vows if you don’t bring them, which I imagine go something like “I take you to be my husband, through standard fares and surge, with or without complimentary bottled water, and promise to give you 5-star service until death do us part.”

Friends can meet you at the ceremony, where a violinist will play the wedding tune as you’re “surrounded by flowers from Bloom That and candles from bella j. After you both say ‘I Do,’ we’ll celebrate with dessert from SusieCakes, cheers with champagne from Iron Horse and you’ll receive a gift bag from L.” Afterwards, HotelTonight and Alaska Airlines will hook up a free honeymoon.

In other words, Uber won’t have to pay for much. But the stunt will get even more people looking at the Uber app during the middle of the hectic Pride weekend when the company stands to make UberSUV-load of cash on surge pricing.

From one perspective, UberWeddings seems cute. The company appears somewhat earnest when it writes: “We’re thankful to be based in San Francisco, a city that recognizes love doesn’t have to look any certain way. In honor of Pride week, we’re celebrating the inclusive idea that love is love with something that lasts a lifetime.”

But I can’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t the point of the fight for marriage equality. You should be able to express your love however you want, but is the lure of a free wedding worth having the momentous occasion swallowed up by a brand?

I plainly asked a few friends who identify as gay what their thoughts were of the campaign, with no leading questions.

“Yeah, pretty gross,” Matt Conn, founder of Midboss and the GaymerX conference, told me. “While it’s nice they’re giving away free trips to people who want to tie the knot…it seems like a very gross way to enter into what should be a lifelong commitment. It seems like a way to get people who are using their app to be like ‘Oh, Uber supports LGBT people, they’re great.’ It’s a very see-through attempt by straight folks to try to capitalize on the ‘hot’ trend of gay rights. It’s just disrespecting marriage.”

Another friend who asked to remain anonymous said: “Seems a bit pandering from Uber’s perspective, but they’re not exactly know for being subtle.”

Paul Mauer, an excellent photographer, was more blunt: “I think it’s contributing to the popular notion that gay relationships aren’t as serious or deeply felt as their heterosexual counterparts. It’s kinda fucked up.”

On Twitter, some people found the idea delightful, but others were upset:

Uber has delivered barbecue, mariachi bands, and ice cream, but this is different. It seems ill-advised to muscle in on Pride week with marketing schtick that’s tone-deaf to the significance marriage has to some people.

I get that Uber is trying to grow its business by whatever means necessary, but it shouldn’t be surprised if crossing the line this way leads to chants of “Divorce Uber.”