US: Minnesota hunting lodge pays for gay couple’s wedding after turning them away
A Minnesota hunting lodge has apologised for refusing to hold a gay couple’s wedding – by paying for their entire ceremony.
The owners of LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Hunting & Recreation club – near Little Falls – had accepted a booking for the wedding of Adam Block and Cole Frey, 18 and 20, but cancelled when it became clear they were a same-sex couple.
According to the Minnesota Tribune, Frey said: “When they found out it would be between two males… they told us they don’t condone same-sex marriage, and they wouldn’t be marrying us on their property.”
However, after the Minnesota Department of Human Rights contacted the lodge, they realised they were in breach of the law and soon changed their policy.
Paul Rogosheske, the attorney for LeBlanc’s, said the owners had “misunderstood” state law – which allows religious institutions to opt out of same-sex marriage ceremonies.
He said: “You could see how people involved in a private hunting club, they were new to hosting weddings in the first place, you could see how they made a mistake.
“They made a mistake and we did everything in our power to correct it.
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“This couple is going to have a great wedding and I can assure you LeBlanc’s is going to be open to everybody.”
The lodge offered to pay for Block and Frey’s entire wedding, reaching a settlement which included them footing the $8500 bill, though the pair will now hold the wedding at another venue.
Human Rights Department Commissioner Kevin Lindsey praised the club’s owners for willingness to “own up to it and make amends”.
He added: “I hope this will be an isolated case.”
Despite the amicable resolution between the two parties, conservative groups have used the incident for provocation.
John Helmberger of the Minnesota Family Council claimed: “This is a shameful example of government forcing citizens to accept the government’s view of sexuality and marriage.”
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