After a wedding venue in their city made headlines for refusing same-sex couples, Winston-Salem in North Carolina is now considering enacting an LGBTQ-rights ordinance. If enacted, they’ll join a growing list of cities and towns that do a better job of protecting citizens from discrimination than state laws do. Read on for the full scoop.
Wedding Venue’s Refusal of Same-Sex Couples Prompts NC City to Consider LGBTQ Rights Law
Remember the North Carolina wedding venue that made major headlines after they refused service to a lesbian couple? If you need a bit of a refresher, here’s the gist: The Warehouse on Ivy in Winston-Salem told a lesbian couple that they couldn’t use their venue for their wedding, citing the venue’s “Christian values” as their reason. The couple, Kasey Mayfield and Brianna May, shared their experience on Facebook, and it quickly caught fire. The post received over 1.6K comments and was shared more than 1,500 times.
While friends, family and even complete strangers stood up for the couple and banded together to let the venue know that this was far from okay, ultimately the law in North Carolina is on the venue’s side. The state has a stunning lack of protections for LGBTQ citizens. Not only that, but up until last month, the state actually had a law on the books prohibiting individual cities from enacting their own ordinance.
Expiration of House Bill 142 prompts North Carolina cities to eye new ordinances protecting same-sex couples
Now that House Bill 142 has expired, though, Winston-Salem is considering joining a growing number of North Carolina towns and cities in passing ordinances that protect the LGBTQ community. First openly gay City Council Member Kevin Mundy told press,
“We have started looking at what we can or can’t do. There are all sorts of hurdles. Our city attorney wants to make sure that if we do create an ordinance, it will stand up in court.”
During his run for office, Mundy promised constituents that he would ensure LGBTQ issues received the attention they need in the city’s government.
However, as he pointed out, enacting ordinances takes time, especially if they want to create one that will hold up to challenges in court. As we saw throughout last year, hate groups like Alliance Defending Freedom are quick to take up clients looking to preemptively sue cities that enact LGBTQ rights ordinances.
An Ohio minister, for example, sued the state to get out of performing same-sex weddings. A Texas judge refused gay and lesbian couples, then sued the state for disciplining him for breaking the law. A little closer to Winston-Salem’s home, multiple vendors and Christian groups sued the state of Virginia over its 2020 LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws.
So, Mundy and his fellow council members have their work cut out for them in enacting a law that can’t easily be challenged in court. The city may take up the discussion next month during, but it could take time before citizens see real change.
City needs to address questions before moving forward
Before that discussion, they need to ask- and answer- some major questions. While public accommodation measures could require local businesses like The Warehouse on Ivy to back down from their same-sex couples ban, City Manager Lee Garrity said that they are looking at other questions as well. For example, would city health insurance policies need to change to cover gender reassignment surgery? Do current protections for gay and lesbian employees need updating to also protect transgender rights?
Garrity told press that they are looking at how other cities respond to those questions. Mundy added that most city ordinances in other areas have exemptions for actual religious organizations, such as churches. However, he said, that public accommodations shouldn’t have the right to turn down customers because they are gay.
Kasey Mayfield told the Winston-Salem Journal that she and May |are ‘ecstatic’ that that city is looking at an anti-discrimination ordinance,” adding,
“The hope is that this will stop discrimination on a lot of other levels that are bigger for queer people — not being discriminated against for housing, jobs or health care.|
However, even if the ordinance passes, the couple still has no plans to push The Warehouse on Ivy to host their wedding.
What do you think about Winston-Salem’s efforts to protect LGBTQ rights and stop other same-sex couples from facing rejection from wedding venues? Share below.
Nicole is the editor-in-chief and regular staff writer for LoveYouWedding. What does that mean? Basically, she handles all the day-to-day tasks related to managing writers and bringing you stellar content on planning the LGBTQ+ wedding of your dreams.
She loves writing about quirky and unique wedding ideas, probably because she’s pretty quirky herself!