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Wal-Mart
subsidiary jumps into same-sex wedding market

Wal-Mart
subsidiary jumps into same-sex wedding market

Despite the company's more conservative policies in the United States, a British subsidiary of retail giant Wal-Mart is jumping into the same-sex wedding market. As U.K. gay and lesbian couples lined up to register under the country's new Civil Partnership Act on Monday, Asda, which is wholly owned by Wal-Mart, was introducing a line of wedding cards and commitment rings for same-sex unions. "Ever since gay weddings were given the official go-ahead, we've had a number of customers asking if we could introduce gay cards," Asda spokesman Ed Watson told The New York Times. "With the launch of our new range, we can ensure that our customers can celebrate every marriage---whether it is between him and her, him and him, or her and her."

Wal-Mart critics, however, are accusing the company of hypocrisy given its strict policies in the United States, where the retailer, which tries to pitch itself as a family-friendly store, pulled a few racy magazines from its shelves or refused to sell some popular books such as When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops by George Carlin because of controversial content. Tracy Sefl of the Washington-based advocacy group Wal-Mart Watch told the Times that Wal-Mart is trying to be "all things to all people anywhere but in the United States," adding, "In the United States they have a conservative, right-leaning business model."

The first legally recognized same-sex civil partnership ceremonies in the United Kingdom will take place December 21. Asda, a food and clothing superstore, this week began selling cards that read, "Wedding day wishes, Mrs. & Mrs." and "Congratulations, Mr. & Mr." Asda will also sell a line of matching gold and diamond rings for about $104 each, the Times said. (Advocate.com)

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