WEDDING BELL BLUES

Engaged Texas Couple Claim They Were Denied Service Because They’re Gay

elpasoBigotry seems to be alive and thriving in Texas. Following the recent report of a former gay bar in Austin that denied entry to LGBT patrons comes news that a gay couple in El Paso was turned away from a venue where the two men hoped to hold a reception following their wedding, KFOX14 reports.

Monico Ramirez and Jonathan Luna (pictured) are engaged and looking for the perfect place to host their wedding reception and thought they’d found it at Grace Gardens, a popular venue for events in El Paso, except for their pesky “no gays allowed” policy.

Ramirez said his and Luna’s visit was going smoothly, they were looking over contract details with an employee, but when informed that the reception was for the two men.

“She just looked at us weird,” Ramirez said. “She took us to a lobby, and told us she had to go speak with a manager, we stayed there 15 minutes. She came out and said ‘I’m sorry guys, but we are not allowed to have any services for same-sex marriage.’”

The couple said they were made to feel embarrassed and when the local news station reported on the story, so was the owner of Grace Gardens.

Sandra Rodriguez, the venue’s owner, quickly maintained that neither man was mistreated at Grace Gardens and released a statement in response to the alleged incident, which includes a few details not included in the men’s account (hint: strippers!):

“Upper Valley Grace Gardens, LLC is aware of the KFOX News item aired on Sunday, August 4, 2013 concerning a homosexual couple’s inability to utilize the Grace Gardens facilities to host their same-sex ceremony and/or reception. While it is true that Grace Gardens does not host same sex ceremonies, and while Grace Gardens understands and respects that others in the community may reach a different decision regarding these matters, Grace Gardens felt it was important to respond to the news item because there was a very clear implication that Mr. Luna and Mr. Ramirez were somehow mistreated by our facility. That implication is unfounded. Mr. Luna and Mr. Ramirez did seek information about Grace Gardens and were given the same tour that all potential clients interested in using our facility are provided. At the commencement of the tour the gentlemen informed our sales associate that they were looking for a place to host a wedding ceremony, and they affirmatively stated that the female bride was out of town. It wasn’t until the tour was almost completed that the gentlemen inquired as to whether Grace Gardens allowed ‘wild parties with strippers.’ It was this question that garnered the ‘weird’ look described by Mr. Ramirez.  After responding that she would have to ask management for the answer, the gentlemen revealed that they were actually a same sex couple seeking to have their ceremony and wild party with strippers at Grace Gardens. After the tour was completed, our sales associate, who was new to the position and conducting her very first tour, sought clarification from management. At that time, the company policy regarding same sex ceremonies, as well as wild parties and strippers were all clarified, and she relayed the information to Mr. Luna and Mr. Ramirez. The gentlemen thanked our sales associate and left. Nothing regarding the treatment of Mr. Luna and Mr. Ramirez can be viewed as anything other than courteous and respectful. While some may disagree with its policies, Grace Gardens was at all times honest with Mr. Luna and Mr. Ramirez. The same cannot be said for their actions.”

Hey, at least they’re courteous when they practice bigotry.