The marriage venue in North Carolina rejects a homosexual couple citing Christian beliefs

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McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards – Photo: Instagram.

A gay couple says they were turned away from a popular wedding venue in North Carolina because of the owner’s religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards got engaged on Valentine’s Day and were looking for wedding venues in the area. One of the venues they examined was the Highgrove Estate in Fuquay-Varina, NC, a sleek white house surrounded by forestry, far from town.

“We found it very picturesque,” said Edwards, “nice outside area. We thought it would be great for a spring wedding.”

The couple completed a form on the property’s website asking for the names of the “bride” and “groom”.

“In the Notes section, I just said we are a bridegroom and a bridegroom,” Edwards told WTVD, an ABC partner in Raleigh. “It’s not that we can ignore that and then show up.”

Unfortunately, Edwards and Henderson soon learned that their business was not welcome at Highgrove Estate.

A Highgrove employee emailed the couple back telling them, “[O]Unfortunately, your owner has chosen not to attend same-sex weddings at this time. However, she wants to make sure you are still having the best wedding anniversary experience possible and has given me a list of several other wonderful venues in the area that might interest you. “

Henderson and Edwards say they were shocked to receive such a response.

“We didn’t really get that response from any venue or provider we reached,” said Henderson, calling it a “daunting” experience. “To see that in 2021 was very surprising for us because we haven’t seen anything like it before.”

Unfortunately for the couple, in the absence of non-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation in North Carolina, Highgrove is entitled to refuse to rent their estate or offer wedding-related services to same-sex couples.

See also: Kentucky tax advisor refuses to file taxes for same-sex married couples and brags about his actions being legal

On its Instagram page, Highgrove posted a statement that reads in part: “Highgrove Estate wants everyone’s weddings to be the most joyful in their lives. Highgrove also respects people’s differences when it comes to marriage. Because of this, we will always be kind and caring when these differences arise. Though Highgrove knows it cannot deliver what is asked as the company clings to its Christian beliefs. “

But Henderson and Edwards, who were raised Christian and have many Christian friends who don’t have the same opposition to same-sex marriages, told WTVD they believe Highgrove is simply trying to use its supposed religious beliefs to justify discrimination.

“We are. We are gay and we didn’t choose to be gay,” said Henderson. “The fact that we don’t have access to things that other people do is, in my eyes, discrimination. I think everyone has the right to believe what he wants to believe to some extent. I don’t think you will become racist because your religion tells you to be racist. I don’t think you will become homophobic because your religion tells you to says you should be homophobic. “

The couple posted Highgrove’s response on social media, saying they were “moved” by the tremendous support they have received from people, including offers from other venues ready to host their wedding.

McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards – Photo: Instagram.

Highgrove has said at least one other couple has moved to have their contract terminated, which the owners honored. But they claim they have received threats since the Henderson and Edwards story was published. The venue even closed its Facebook page due to negative comments.

“The backlash is sad, it was aggressive, hateful and designed to cause fear,” the owners told WTVD. “They demand that we believe just as they do and that they leave us alone. We stand by our belief in the sanctity of marriage and that won’t change. We wish [Henderson and Edwards] to find the very best venue and that your special day is wonderful. “

Henderson prides itself on speaking about the experience in the hopes that others won’t experience the same rejection.

“I think the reason we are doing this is because we need to press the needle to eliminate discrimination across the board in private companies,” he said. “[The owners of Highgrove Estate] have the right to think what they want or believe, but I think it’s up to us to let people know, “Hey, if you want to go to a venue that supports LGBTQ couples, this is not one of them. “

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