A North Carolina venue made headlines this week after refusing to host a same-sex wedding, citing their “Christian” principals as the reason. Worse, thanks to the state’s complete lack of protection against discrimination for their LGBTQ citizens, they’ll get away with it. Read on for the full story.
North Carolina Venue Gets Away with Refusing Same-Sex Wedding Thanks to State’s Lack of LGBTQ Rights Protections
The Warehouse on Ivy, a popular wedding venue in Winston-Salem, made headlines this week for all the wrong reasons after refusing to host a same-sex wedding. Brianna May, one half of the lesbian couple rejected by the venue, posted a screenshot of the letter on Facebook.
For those who can’t see the image, Brianna wrote,
If you’re wondering how wedding planning is going…thanks so much to the warehouse on ivy for letting us know we’re not welcome.
Beneath it, the screenshot of the rejection letter reads,
“As we would love to have you at our venue, unfortunately we do not host same sex marriage ceremonies. We do appreciate you considering us.”
At the time of this writing, the post received over 1.2K comments and was shared more than 1.4K times. So, while the venue may not face any legal backlash thanks to North Carolina’s complete lack of laws protecting their LGBTQ citizens from discrimination, they’ll at least face public backlash.
Warehouse on Ivy faces public backlash
While some of the 1.2K comments dripped with homophobia and vitriol directed at the couple, a good portion of them offered words of encouragement and support. One Facebook user wrote,
I don’t know you but I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m glad you shared with others. I would never choose a venue that did not support ALL LOVE.
In response to a user who told the couple to “pick a different venue and move on,” another replied,
Obviously they are, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t put the discrimination they have endured out there. The only way to fight discrimination like this is to speak out about it. Remaining silent enables this type of discrimination to continue.
Supporters take to Yelp to express outrage
Multiple respondents left negative reviews for the business on Yelp. Meanwhile, those who agree with the venue’s discriminatory practices attempted to counteract the negative reviews by posting positive ones. It reached the point where the online review site temporarily halted commenting to give them time to verify the veracity of each review.
Yelp only allows reviews by those who have personal experience with a business. While that seems like a reasonable policy on the surface, as one Facebook user pointed out,
“…everyone has a right to review a business based on their opinion. And that is simply what everyone is doing. In the future if a couple decides to look at this business as an option for a venue, they can easily peak (sic) at the reviews and see that they aren’t welcome. Without wasting their time and without getting a response from a company feeling like they’re less than anyone else.
Kasey Mayfield, Brianna’s future wife, shared her gratitude for the outpouring of support, writing,
“Brianna and I would like to thank everyone who had kind and supportive words for us. To everyone with recommendations, we can’t wait to look through them and continue planning our wedding and share them with other queer couples facing the same obstacles. “
As of now, clicking on the venue’s Facebook page leads to a “This page is not available” error message. Ditto for their Instagram account.
Venue cites “Christian values” as reason for denying same-sex couple
The Warehouse on Ivy responded to media requests for comment by issuing an emailed statement. In it, they wrote,
“We will allow anyone of any color, race, religion or belief to use our venue at any given time. Although we love and respect everyone in our community, there (sic) own decision making and beliefs, we also strongly believe in our christian (sic) values.”
Their statement is a tad confusing (and not just because of the grammar, spelling, and odd word choices), as they claim to allow anyone to use their venue at any given time…except, apparently, same-sex couples.
As Rick Su, a law professor at UNC School of Law, wrote to the Charlotte Observer,
The wedding venue is free to discriminate on the basis for sexual orientation in North Carolina.”
North Carolina among 29 states without laws protecting LGBTQ community from discrimination
More than half of the nation’s states- including North Carolina- currently have no statewide laws on the books protecting LGBTQ citizens against discrimination. North Carolina took their lack of anti-discrimination laws a step further.
The state actually had a law prohibited cities and towns from enacting their own local ordinances to protect their LGBTQ residents. House Bill 142 expired on December 1st, however, so advocates are hopeful that new anti-discrimination laws are just around the corner.
What do you think about The Warehouse on Ivy refusing to host a same-sex wedding? Share your thoughts below.