MADISON, Tenn. (WKRN) — A gay couple in Nashville has been looking for wedding venues since getting engaged in July.
After searching around, Mike Gill said he contacted The Barn in the Bend to tour the Madison venue.
“I can honestly say when we started looking for wedding venues, we didn’t think that we would come across this at all; it was a true surprise,” Gill’s fiancé Coty Heaton said.
The couple got an email response from the venue’s owner, Jackie Daniel, stating it was against her policy to conduct same-sex ceremonies.
“We were disappointed and hurt and angry,” Heaton said. “It is 2021; we have come too far for this.”
Daniel told News 2 that it goes against her religious beliefs to host a gay couple’s wedding, but she wishes them the best in finding a place.
In her email response to the couple, which she forwarded to News 2, Daniel wrote “I see you wasted no time with the reviews and that too is your right, just as my choice of ceremony types at my venue is my choice.”
“We aren’t looking at churches, we knew going down a religious path would be a path of resistance,” Gill said.
But the couple said they felt triggered by the reaction. They took to social media to alert friends within the LGBTQ community that they would not be welcome at the venue if any were looking to get married in the future.
“She had every opportunity to say ‘oh, that date is booked’ or ‘oh, we’re booked for that whole month,'” Heaton said.
After the post grew traction on social media with a photo of Daniel’s response, The Barn in the Bend website and Facebook page was taken down.
“My intent was never to send hate towards this person; it was never to shut down the business — anything like that,” Gill said. “People are welcome to make their choices, but when you make your policy very blatantly discriminatory and people find out about it, people don’t like it.”
Based on a Supreme Court ruling in 2018 where a Colorado baker denied a homosexual couple a wedding cake, judges voted in favor of the baker because of how he articulated his religious beliefs. But Nashville Attorney Jim Todd said if there were different circumstances, based on the judge’s opinions, there could have easily been an alternate outcome.
Todd said it’s a muddy legal ground because one side is arguing discrimination while another is fighting for freedom of religion.
Ultimately, Heaton and Gill just want Daniel to reflect on her policies.