A gay couple in Tennessee have been turned down by a wedding venue because of the owner’s “religious beliefs”.
Mike Gill and Coty Heaton got engaged in July, and had been searching for a venue for their wedding.
They came across Barn in the Bend, a rustic wedding venue in Madison, Tennessee, and thought it was a perfect fit – before the owner realised they were a same-sex couple.
Gill’s email correspondence with Barn in the Bend owner Jackie Daniel started off well, and she told him she was “glad to set up a tour”.
But Gill noticed something unusual in Daniel’s email signature: “We offer same-sex marriage ceremonies only.”
Around an hour later, he received another email from Daniel, whose signature had now been changed to read: “We do not offer same-sex marriage ceremonies.”
Daniel told him: “I am not sure but I believe I remember you calling me and I was on vacation last week.
“Did you mention that your partner was a ‘he’? If I’m wrong, I’m sorry.”
She told the newly-engaged gay man that she “didn’t want to waste his time”, and added: “We do not offer same-sex marriages here.”
In a follow-up email, she said: “I am sorry but due to my religious beliefs I have chosen this policy.”
Heaton described the venue owner as a “bigot” on Facebook, but Gill told TMZ that they don’t want anything from Daniel, they just want to inform other queer couples of the venue’s intolerance.
The Tennessee wedding venue has been slammed online as ‘absolutely hateful’
The LGBT+ community and allies rallied around the engaged gay couple, and took to the wedding venue’s TripAdvisor page to share their thoughts in a flurry of one-star reviews.
One wrote: “In 2021, we still have absolutely HATEFUL, unaccepting people who, unfortunately, own businesses… I will make sure to reach out to all musicians, photographers, event planners that I know to make sure they cross this bigoted business off their list.
“Absolutely DESPICABLE. If I could give zero stars, I gladly would.”
Another said: “This is so disgusting. Two, beautiful people who were planing a lovely ceremony just found out they had to change plans due to this venue’s hatred.”
A third reviewer called out Jackie Daniel’s claim that she rejected the gay couple because of her “religious beliefs”.
They wrote: “This place does not accept same-sex couples. That is a shame. It is 2021. They do not do this because of their religion.”
Quoting the Bible – “above all, love each other deeply” – and added: “Do they ask every women if she is a virgin? Do they allow alcohol?
“They cannot be true believers and act like Jesus if they don’t love everyone.”
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