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Two men who got engaged on Valentine’s Day say they were very surprised to be refused service at a North Carolina wedding venue.
Grooms-to-be McCae Henderson, an attorney, and Ike Edwards, a cosmetic dentist, told their story to WDTV.
They said after getting engaged, they began to look around for venues. They filled out an inquiry form for the beautiful Highgrove Estate in Fuquay-Varina, NC. The venue charges between $4,000 to $7,500 for ceremonies and promises to offer “the best of Southern hospitality.”
On the estate’s form, where it asked for names, it only offered boxes for ‘Bride’ and ‘Groom’, so the men added a note saying they were both grooms.
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The venue responded saying because of the owner’s Christian beliefs, it could not host them, and instead offered them some alternative suggestions.
Related: Wedding venue cites “Christian race” for banning gay and mixed race couples
“This is us. We are gay and we did not choose to be gay,” Henderson said. “The fact that we don’t have access to things other people do is discrimination in my eyes. I think everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe to an extent. I don’t think you get to be racist because your religion tells you to be racist. I don’t think you get to be homophobic because your religion tells you to be homophobic.”
The owners of Highgrove Estate claimed to WDTV that they did not discriminate.
“Highgrove has always welcomed vendors, guests and employees of all orientations and we do not discriminate against a people or group,” a spokesperson said.
“We believe in the sanctity of marriage as God says in the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman and we choose to honor Him above what the world decides what marriage should be.”
The spokesperson said they understood the couple’s frustration but said the venue’s team were now the ones feeling attacked.
“We have been respectful and kind when letting them know we are not the best fit for them. When magazines and others chose not to do business with us because of this position, we respected that decision. That is their right. We do not judge them or retaliate because they chose to not respect our religious beliefs.
“The argument can just as easily be the same for us as we’re being made to feel like the other. We are not the ones attacking, slandering and threatening others for their beliefs.”
It repeated the message on an Instagram posting.
“Highgrove Estate desires that all people’s weddings to be the most joyful in their lives. Highgrove also respects people’s differences regarding marriage.
“For this reason, we will always be kind and caring when these differences arise. Although Highgrove knows it cannot deliver what is being requested as the company holds strong to its Christian beliefs.”
Federal and North Carolina state civil rights offer discrimination protection based on race, color, creed, religion, sex and national origin – but not sexual orientation.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted in favor of passing the Equality Act but it faces a battle to pass through the Senate.
Related: 70% of voters support the Equality Act even as Senate Republicans try to stop it
One local GOP lawmaker said the venue had the right to turn away the couple.
Senator Jim Burgin (R-Harnett County), said, “The business owner’s freedom needs to be protected just like the freedom of that couple to get married needs to be protected. I just feel like we got too many laws and too many rules, and government is too involved in our lives.”
Since the story broke, Highgrove Estates has received backlash. At least one other couple have canceled their planned wedding there.
The venue has removed its Facebook page and set its Instagram page to private. It also says it has received one threatening message, which it has reported to the police.
“The backlash is sad, it’s been aggressive, hateful and designed to cause fear,” said a spokesperson. “What they are asking is for us to believe just like them and they will leave us alone. We stand by our beliefs in the sanctity of marriage and that is not going to change. We wish (McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards) to find the very best venue and that their special day is wonderful.”
Henderson and Edwards said they didn’t condone any threats of violence against the venue and wouldn’t allow this episode to detract from the excitement and joy of their upcoming wedding.
““We have been respectful and kind when letting them know we are not the best fit for them.”
The typical right wing defense. “We didn’t call them fa**ots and hit them with bats when we discriminated against them and denied them their civil rights, so we don’t understand what the fuss is about.
Let all your friends and family know that next time they are in F*ckway-Vagina, NC, DO NOT to stay at the Highgrove Estate.
Oh yeah : I found F*CKWAY-VAGINA , NC…. on Google.com/maps.. It’s a DYING podunk hamlet deep in the Carolina woods.. I’d SUE the a-hole owners.. Although since the owners are total two faced BIGOTS I’d sue .
Your religion should be for you only. If it interferes with the rules of society I don’t want to hear that you have some right to do that.
This includes groups like the Amish not sending their kids to high school, Mormons trying to kick LGBTQ kids out of BYU or bigoted businesses like this. If you have a public business license, you get to deal with the public.
True…. however BYU is a privately, religion owned and operated university… which isn’t the same thing as a “privately” owned business that is open to the public
BYU accepts government grants as well as government funding for research, so if they want to discriminate they should be forced to give up accepting any of that.
Both parties are entitled to their views. That’s the great thing about America, everyone’s entitled to their personal views and beliefs. That being said, so the owners of this estate that leases out their facilities for wedding venues are so called ‘Christians’, so are a lot of people. These venue owners inadvertently have hosted weddings for many couples and many of them weren’t Christians yet there weren’t any problems yet when approached by a gay couple, the S**T hit the fan.. The owners are running a business that is open to the public so evidently other couples’ money was green enough yet when the venue was approached by a gay couple, no amount of money could cut it. As stated previously, religious views don’t pay the bills, cold hard cash does. On the other hand if this was a private estate connected with a specific church, they might have an argument as it’s a private estate and not open to public events. In a way this gay couple dodged a bullet here. Who would want their wedding venue held in a place like this where things just might go awry with subpar service, lousy food etc.
You almost did it. I was thinking, “Is the same old right wing troll account going to say something sensible and not bigoted?”
But see, then you tried to insinuate that a business that advertises to the public at large was somehow not a public business, and then also tried the “Well they shouldn’t go there” defense that is the standard bigoted defense.
Your troll game got a little better, but is still old and tired.
So do they also refuse service to people who are divorced considering that the Bible explicitly finds divorce as sinful too?
of course they do ! ! ! ! Being good Christian folk, they would never be two-faced hypocrites.
Or the brides not a virgin, or either wears mixed fabrics or, has ever eaten anything that is cloven hooved, how about whether they have eaten shrimp, crab or lobster?
Poor people, send Lil Nas X, perhaps they drop dead or become insane.
As long as sexual orientation is not a protected category, they will get away with this. The argument that the business owners give makes as much sense as them saying that this couple’s choices in footwear are so flashy as to be against their religious beliefs.
Providing a wedding venue to others doesn’t in any way, shape, or form require any supplier of the venue to change their beliefs about anything. I’m sure their “beliefs” don’t condone a mixed race heterosexual couple marrying, but since race is a protected category under the law, I’m sure they have hosted such marriages.
The United States and many individual states lag behind much of the developed world in recognizing sexual orientation as a category protected from discrimination. This should be fought in the courts and through the legislatures.
isn’t the venue discriminating against the couple because of the couple’s religious beliefs as well? Also a person could have a field day with the meaning of the term…. CREED.
When you open a business to the public…. you get to serve the public.
Filed under: Typical Xstain “Love.”
Either a business is open to the public or it isn’t.
They can’t put a sign saying “no blacks”
This has nothing to do with their religion and everything to do with their hate.
i’m gay and think highgrove’s position is reasonable and what the law should abide. both parties rights are protected. no one is harmed here. it’s a rational line between religious and gay rights. the only hate i see generated here is from commentators.
so….. you are saying that Highgrove has the right to refuse service to interracial couples, atheists, Jews, and Black people because Highgrove believes in the Bible?
The USA is a society that is controlled by The Constitution….and not by The Bible.
Yes the gay couple is harmed here. This is denying the same treatment and services to people based on how they were born.
How is this any different than a smaller scale of segregation based on religious beliefs. “No Gays Allowed” should be as outrageous as “No Jews Allowed” or “No Blacks Allowed”. It’s all abhorrent and discrimination.
Except you’re lying.
Every right wing troll comes in here with “I am a lesbian” or “I am trans” before they then say something that supports bigotry against lesbians or trans people.
Your troll game is weak and sad.
You are a self hating, homophobic loon! Shame on you for your ignorant comment!
For decades the GOP has been fighting full legal protections and equality for LGBTQ people, while also pushing discriminatory legislation, now under the pretext of “religious liberty,” and here we are: de facto segregation and refusal with public accommodations. Why any LGBTQ person would support the GOP and its anti-gay, homophobic and transphobic acts and legislation is beyond me, but doing so allows discrimination like this to take root.
And don’t think if it’s happening here it won’t happen elsewhere. It isn’t just the “deep South” or the “Bible Belt,” etc. NO ONE–absolutely NO ONE–who offers public discrimination should be allowed to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or presentation, just as they should not be able to discriminate based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability status, etc.
I personally would like to require an affirmative statement by any business that wishes to assert a religious belief as a means to deny service. Don’t want to serve gays, or muslims? Fine but you need to include a statement on all of your locations (physical and online) that says who you don’t serve due to religious beliefs.
That way it is not hidden and people can choose to spend their gay (or whatever) dollars elsewhere. I would love to see how viable most businesses would be if they had to be open about people they object to for religious purposes. I, for one, would elect to take my gay dollars anyplace else and I think most of my friends and family would do the same.
This delusional place says they have been “respectful and kind…” Really? Blatant discrimination and bigotry are actually the EXACT opposite of respectful and kind. It’d demoralizing and vile. I feel really badly for this happy couple and am sorry they – or anyone – would ever have to face this type of treatment. Of course, any member of the GOP will support this as “religious freedom” when we all know that that’s just their euphemism for sanctioned bigotry and discrimination.
They are hiding behind “religious liberty” when in actuality they are just assholes who want to discriminate.
In my opinion, there are several salient points here: 1) Southern Hospitality — I believe that means they hang people in trees without the benefit of judges and juries. Or sometimes with. 2) There will always be shitty people. If that’s the “venue’s” stance, why the heck would you WANT to have it there? I’d brush the dust from my shoes and find somewhere that I’m valued as a human being. 3) North Caroline — didn’t they elect Madison Cawthorne? Ugh…
Because it is a public business’s job to accommodate the public. We’ve allowed too many of these bigots to get away with things by not pushing back. I’m glad this couple are doing just that.
Does the venue ask if the marriage participants have ever been divorced prior to this union? Do they ask if the bride and groom have had premarital sex? If not, then they are NOT following Christian teachings and are selectively choosing which discriminating policies they want to employ.
I think that the business should be required to post on all of their collateral material, that they use to promote their business and services, that they refuse to service GLBT clients and who ever else. This way all potential customers and guests can see that they discriminate.
A heterosexual couple perhaps would change their mind about using this business because they discriminate.
This is pure DISCRIMINATION against the LGBT community period. It’s like the baker’s denying cakes on religious grounds. Funny do they bake cakes for Jews? Jews don’t believe in Jesus Christ which is paramount to Christianity? Do they bake cakes for Muslims? Hindu’s? Buddhists? Nope so it’s not really about Christianity it’s about hate for the LGBT community.
Same thing at this Horrible wedding location.
All these folks use government services and tax laws and most probably took Stimulus funds so they should have to take all weddings.
When was the last time these so called Christians asked Hey is the pilot gay? Is the Bus driver gay? The doctor? etc. etc. etc. It’s all a SHAM by the Evangelical Right!
just one of the many reasons why i abhor religion!
I am glad when bigots tell us who they are. I would rather know instead of giving them my money before they spit in my food. They don’t deserve our money & they should never get it.
If they’re so Christian shouldn’t they ban Jews, Hindus, etc. since obviously they’re going to hell to?
Hopefully now you know what LGBTQ people of color go through everyday when applying for jobs let alone a wedding venue.If you feel you have been discriminated against MOVE and don’t give the State your tax dollars it’s that simple. You 2 seem to be doing just fine in your careers move and take your careers/business to another State that will appreciate you.
Two thoughts here. First of all, I’m sorry the venue has hidden behind privacy settings and even eliminated its Facebook page, because I sure would like to tell them that no, they don’t get to play the victim card here. It is not at all “Christian” to yell bigotry and then claim to be the offended one when you get called out for it. But the other thing: Surely that is not the only wedding organizer in North Carolina. Go somewhere else and fine one that is not run by jackasses.
I have a straight female friend who never understood the whole “man won’t bake wedding cake for queers” thing. In my opinion, as my friend said, why would you want to give them your business? She said she would just take her money elsewhere. Simple, right?
Not to me. If you engage in business of any kind, you are engaging in commerce. Commerce is State. If you discriminate in your business, because of your religious beliefs, you’ve violated the Establishment Clause of Separation of Church and State. See, that is simple to me.
These absolutely ridiculous religious freedom laws are redundant. They already exist. They are simply Christians who want to keep us as second class citizens, because the Bible tells them so.
That is Southern Hospitality for you. Come up to Massachusetts, our friends finally got married in Georgia in 2016 after being refused by the Episcopal Church. I told them to find a Justice of the Peace as marriage equality was the law. They found a military JP in Georgia and got married. They came up to Massachusetts and my husband and I had a wedding party for them and yes, we had a wedding cake baked for them with no problems putting their names and the term husbands on the cake.
That is why we had our wedding in a park in downtown Lexington. Was better than renting a venue, and we didn’t have to put up with bigots like this. Cute couple btw.
I think this is a PERFECT opportunity for another venue to pull out all the stops to host this couple and all their guests. “Unlike the individuals who own and run Highgrove Estate we at XXXXXX welcome you and would be honored to make your special day both beautiful and memorable. Our staff look forward to meeting with you.”
Highgrove doesn’t want their business, you’ll not only take this business, but you’ll more than likely take other business away from them. Let’s not forget who runs most of these wedding companies. They can steer the business. If anyone has seen the play “Regrets Only” you’ll know what I mean.
Sue ‘em! I would if I were them. Most Evangelical Christians are evil people!
Look at those two tragic stereotypes, Gucci belt and shoes, Hermes belt and ballet slippers. That’s what passes for gay in the south. Christ, I’m queer as queer can be, and if I owned a wedding venue I wouldn’t let those two through the doors either.
Right wing troll account tries to deflect from the blatant bigotry by attacking the victims.
newsflash, plantation owners (nice try with PR and legal team response) however you are NOT a house of worship, your personal relationship with God is irrelevant, to clients, find another excuse to turn away good business, in this economy. “burn in hell” is still bad inference even if you tack on a “please” you dont have to approve, of what is a civil ceremony and/or reception (since it is not a house of worship), just keep the crab puffs coming, and let God judge. worry about your own sins, since I guarantee you, God will not be asking you about mine!
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