A gay couple were not allowed to hire a wedding venue after an owner told them they do not cater to same-sex relationships.
Mike Gill said that he and his partner, Coty Heaton, thought they had found the perfect place to get married when they discovered the Barn in the Bend – a rustic wedding venue in Nashville, Tennessee.
However, things quickly took an odd turn when Gill began exchanging emails with the venue’s owner, Jackie Daniel.
Daniel had sent the couple a proposal for their big day on 31 August, which featured a note at the bottom that read, “We offer same-sex marriage ceremonies only.”
“If this looks like something that would work for you let me know and we will be glad to set up a tour,” the email said.
Just over an hour later, the couple allegedly received a bizarre follow-up from Daniel who began questioning whether or not Gill is in a same-sex relationship.
“I am not sure but I believe I remember you calling me last week,” the second email read. “Did you mention that your partner was a ‘he’ if I’m wrong I’m sorry.”
It continued: “However, I don’t want to waste your time since we do not offer same-sex marriages here.”
The message came complete with a brand new signature at the bottom, though this time it said the exact opposite to what had been there just 60 minutes earlier.
“We do not offer same-sex marriage ceremonies,” Daniel’s new signature said.
After Gill responded and said that he would make sure potential customers knew about him and his partner being turned away, Daniel sent a third email which explained her “religious beliefs” were the reason for the policy existing.
“I see you wasted no time with the reviews and that too is your right just as my choice of ceremony types at my venue is my choice,” she went on to say.
Shortly after Gill shared screenshots of his discussion with Daniels, the venue’s website and Facebook pages were taken offline – likely because of the backlash being posted on both.
Neither Nashville nor the state of Tennessee gives LGBTQ+ citizens nondiscrimination protections in public accommodations, meaning what happened to the couple is completely legal.
In 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favour of a baker who refused to decorate a cake for a gay couple based on religious beliefs.
“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in the case ruling, “all in the context of recognising that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
The couple claimed they do not want anything else from the venue and are now looking for a more inclusive place to get married.