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Texas wedding venue refuses gay couple over religious beliefs

Sofia Lotto Persio January 27, 2019
Gay couple aaron lucero and jeff cannon got engaged in June.

The gay couple said the venue did not disclose it wasn't LGBT friendly. (Aaron Lucero/Facebook)

A wedding venue in Texas has refused to serve a gay couple who was planning their marriage.

Aaron Lucero, who got engaged with his fiancé Jeff Cannon last summer, denounced The Venue at Waterstone in Celina in a public post shared on Facebook and Twitter on January 20.

“Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I personally experienced the ugly scourge of discrimination in this country. It wasn’t for the color of my skin, my religious beliefs, or my political affiliation…it was for who I wanted to marry,” read the post, signed by the gay couple.

Lucero and Cannon also published screenshots of the exchange they had with the owner of the venue, who explained in an email that, due to their religious beliefs, they did not host LGBT+ weddings or receptions.

Gay couple aaron lucero and jeff cannon are still looking for a Venue
The gay couple said they were heartbroken over the rejection. (Aaron Lucero/Facebook)

According to the couple’s post, the owner’s beliefs and rejection of same-sex weddings was not clear from the venue’s website or from its listing on TheKnot.com, a wedding planning website.

“Had we known in advance that this venue was not LGBTQ+ friendly, we would not have given it a second thought,” they wrote, describing the rejection as “heartbreaking.”

The couple described the process of finding a wedding venue “filled with disappointment and frustration” as The Venue at Waterstone isn’t the only place that has rejected them.

“We reached out to other venues with whom we had appointments today, and received responses that they were not ‘well equipped’ or ‘a good fit’ for same-sex weddings which made us feel even worse because they tried to disguise their discrimination,” they wrote.

Gay couple hope their story will inspire change

In sharing their story, the couple had two goals: first, to bring to light the anti-gay discrimination of The Venue at Waterstone, and secondly, to ask TheKnot.com to do more to filter out vendors who are not LGBT-friendly.

“TheKnot.com should require that if a vendor wants to be promoted on their website they must publicise their policy on providing services to gay couples, especially for states like Texas that don’t have legal protection from discrimination,” they wrote, “We shouldn’t have to preface every contact with a vendor with ‘do you provide service for same-sex weddings?'”

Representatives from The Knot told Out magazine that The Venue at Waterstone has been removed from the website, in line with a company police that was outlined in a June 2018 Instagram post from the company’s CEO Mike Steib written after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Colorado baker who refused a cake to a same-sex couple.

The post read: “Our terms of service on The Knot prohibit vendors in our marketplace from discriminating against couples based on their race, religion, or sexual orientation. When we learn that a vendor has violated these terms of service, we will remove the vendor’s storefront and refund his or her money. We love our couples, and all of our couples deserve a marketplace free of unfair prejudice.”

Reacting to the news on Facebook, Lucero said they were happy with TheKnot’s response, but more needed to be done. “We need to hold companies accountable and demand transparency so that other LGBTQ+ couples can avoid the same hostility and rejection from business. Also, LGBTQ+ supporters deserve the truth too in order for them make an informed decision on where they’re spending their money,” he wrote.

In a statement to NBC DFW, Lyle Wise, the owner of The Venue at Waterstone said: “We are a family of believers. We love all people because Christ first loved us; Jeffrey and Aaron included. We cannot violate the convictions God has placed within us. In love, we would never affirm anyone in something that was to their detriment.”

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