Yet another North Carolina wedding venue is denying service to same-sex couples, and just like The Warehouse on Ivy, they’ll get away with it thanks to current state laws. Read on for the full story.
Same-Sex Couple Denied by Yet another NC Wedding Venue
McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards, who got engaged on Valentine’s Day, recently started their search for the perfect wedding venue in their area, the Triangle (a region of North Carolina anchored by three major universities, also called the Research Triangle). Among their top picks: the elegant Highgrove Estate in Fuquay-Varina.
When the couple submitted an inquiry on the venue’s website, they added a note that they were a groom and a groom, as the form only gave spaces for the “bride” and the “groom.” The venue responded to their inquiry by telling them that they do not host same-sex weddings, citing religious beliefs. They offered alternatives, instead.
Henderson, an attorney, told ABC11,
“Disheartening is the word I would use. We had not had anything like this throughout the process or really in our lives.”
“This is us. We are gay and we did not choose to be gay. The fact that we don’t have access to things other people do is discrimination in my eyes. I think everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe to an extent. I don’t think you get to be racist because your religion tells you to be racist. I don’t think you get to be homophobic because your religion tells you to be homophobic.”
— ABC30 Fresno (@ABC30) April 12, 2021
Venue faces backlash compares it to discrimination faced by same-sex couples
According to ABC11, the venue refused to issue a public statement but spoke to reporters off-camera. They claimed that their venue has always welcomed “vendors, guests and employees” of all orientations, but that they believe “God says in the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman” and they choose to follow that over “what the world decides what marriage should be.”
In an exclusive statement sent to ABC11, the owners wrote “Highgrove has always welcomed vendors, guests and employees of all orientations and we do not discriminate against a people or group. We believe in the sanctity of marriage as God says in the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman and we choose to honor Him above what the world decides what marriage should be.”
When ABC11 asked the venue about the couple’s frustration over their rejection, its owners claimed that they had been “respectful and kind.” After stating that they respect the decisions of “magazines and others [who] chose not to do business with us because of this position,” they went on to compare their plight to the discrimination faced by same-sex couples, saying,
The argument can just as easily be the same for us as we’re being made to feel like the other. We are not the ones attacking, slandering and threatening others for their beliefs.”
The “others” they’re referring to are couples who canceled their wedding at the venue after learning about its discriminatory policies. So far, at least one has done so. The venue is also facing backlash on social media and Yelp, the latter of which is currently monitoring reviews.
As of now, NC wedding venues like Highgrove Estate can get away with discriminating against same-sex couples
Thanks to a lack of laws protecting North Carolina residents against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, venues like Highgrove Estate and The Warehouse on Ivy can get away with refusing service to same-sex couples just by claiming that gay marriage is against their religious beliefs.
That may change soon, however, as new legislation is under consideration both at a state and federal level. The Equality Act would make discrimination against LGBTQ people illegal across the entire country. It’s already passed in the House of Representatives at the end of February.
However, it faces major challenges in the Senate, even with a 50/50 split between Democrats and Republicans. Discussions around the bill only began this week, but conservative Republicans are already claiming that it discriminates against them. According to Newsweek, Utah GOP Senator Mike Lee said,
“The language is rather significantly broad and would almost inevitably put this law in a position of occupying a more significant place with respect to religious institutions.”
Take a look at the video below to see how passing the act would affect LGBTQ Americans:
Up until recently, North Carolina law forbade individual cities and towns from enacting their own non-discrimination ordinances to counteract the state’s lack of protections for its LGBTQ+ citizens. Sen. Jim Burgin, a Republican in Harnett County, said,
“The business owner’s freedom needs to be protected just like the freedom of that couple to get married needs to be protected I just feel like we got too many laws and too many rules, and government is too involved in our lives. I think we’ve got to, as lawmakers, we need to be very careful that we don’t overstep the whole idea of personal religious freedoms and opportunities to live life unencumbered by government.”
As for Henderson and Edwards, they told reporters that they’re moved by the support they’ve received so far, saying “This won’t take away our joy.”
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