North Carolina Wedding Venue Turns Gay Couple Away

Highgrove Estates in North Carolina
Sign out front of Highgrove Estates in North Carolina
(screen capture via WTVD)

Another gay couple denied service by a business because of the owners’ beliefs in the “sanctity of marriage.”

Local news station WTVD in North Carolina reports a gay couple approached the Highgrove Estate in Fuquay-Varina for their upcoming nuptials but were turned away after the owners became aware they were a gay couple.

Ironically, the venue purports to offer “the best of Southern hospitality.”

McCae Henderson, an attorney, and Ike Edwards, a cosmetic dentist, told WDTV they filled out an inquiry form for the venue. In the spots where they were to identify the ‘bride’ and ‘groom,’ they left a note saying they were both grooms.

The Christian-owned estate sent a reply saying they don’t host same-sex weddings and offered a list of alternative venues.

The rejection was “disheartening,” said Henderson. “We had not had anything like this throughout the process or really in our lives.”

“This is us. We are gay and we did not choose to be gay,” he continued. “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.”

“Highgrove has always welcomed vendors, guests and employees of all orientations and we do not discriminate against a people or group,” read a statement from the Highgrove owners released to WTVD. “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.”

So, two things.

One, they are discriminating against “people or a group.” They refuse to treat LGBTQ people the same as heterosexual people.

Two, in citing the “sanctity of marriage” I’d like to know if they’ve ever hosted the wedding of someone who’s been divorced? Cause….that’s a sin in the Bible that’s directly connected to the “sanctity of marriage.” This is just more picking and choosing parts of the Bible that support their bias.

Highgrove Estates in North Carolina
Highgrove Estates in North Carolina (image via official website)

While there are federal civil rights laws that protect against discrimination – based on race, color, creed, religion, sex and national origin – there are no such protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.

And in North Carolina, some local ordinances have passed protections against LGBTQ discrimination, but not in Highgrove’s jurisdiction.

The Equality Act – which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal civil rights laws – recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. But the legislation faces an extremely steep climb in the U.S. Senate where Democrats would need 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster blocking the bill from a vote.

Andy Cohen & GLAAD Call For End To Gay Blood Ban

Andy Cohen on ‘Watch What Happens Next Live’

This morning, Good Morning America ran an in-depth piece about Lukus Estok, a young gay man who had recovered from COVID-19, but was turned away from donating his plasma at the New York Blood Center because he is gay.

In a new statement to Good Morning America, an FDA spokesperson stated that “the FDA is committed to considering alternatives to the time-based deferral for men who have sex with men by generating the scientific evidence that will support an effective individual risk assessment-based blood donor questionnaire.”

The FDA also revealed to Good Morning America that it is “working to commence a pilot study that will enroll about 2000 men who have sex with men and who would be willing to donate blood.”

“The FDA is placing American lives on the line as they debate stigma, not science,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “During the current crisis, the FDA is wasting time and money on a pilot study when all the scientific research and medical authorities plainly state that gay and bi man should not be restricted from donating blood.”

“All blood donations, regardless of sexual orientation, are screened to ensure healthy samples and now the American Medical Association, leading elected officials, and more than 600 medical professionals have all done the work for the FDA and unequivocally state that this ban needs to end,” added Ellis.

On his Thursday evening broadcast of Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen revealed he was denied from giving plasma after surviving COVID-19.

He called out the FDA’s restrictions for being based on “stigma rather than science,” which is ultimately impeding on the urgent need for blood donations from Americans, as well as plasma donations from COVID-19 survivors.

Watch Andy Cohen’s impassioned speech here.

GLAAD thanked Andy on Twitter for speaking out against the ban:

Earlier this week, attorney generals from 19 states and D.C. issued a letter to the Assistant Health Secretary, requesting that the FDA further loosen its ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

(via press release)

Dying Man’s Funeral Refused By Church Because His Son Is Gay

L-R Brandon Smitty, Jessie Goodman (image via WTVC)

For years now, the LGBTQ community has endured reports of being denied services – like trying to buy a wedding cake or wedding invitations, or enrolling children of same-sex parents at private schools – all because of ‘deeply held religious beliefs.’

But a church in Tennessee is now denying a dying man’s request to host his funeral because his son is gay.

Jessie Goodman’s father is 71-years-old, very ill and dying.

His father has two requests after he is gone: that Jessie sing “The Anchor Holds” at the funeral, and that the services be held at Lee’s Chapel Baptist Church in Sweetwater, Tennessee. It’s the church the father first attende

But when Jessie, who is engaged to Brandon Smitty, approached the church about the service, Pastor Jay Scruggs and several members of the church told him neither he nor his fiancé could be involved in the funeral because they are gay.

Goodman told local ABC affiliate WTVC News 9, “As long as I was going to take part in any way, he (Goodman’s father) could not have his service there.”

Goodman was reportedly told the funeral could be held at the church if Jessie would attend alone, and not be a part of the service at all.

And if his fiancé showed up, he would be asked to leave.

News 9 reached out to Scruggs, but the pastor refused to comment saying he would speak to the press “after Jessie’s father is in the grave.”

“They’re punishing my dad for a lifestyle choice I’ve made,” said Goodman. “It’s not me up there in a casket. It’s him.”

The father, whose name is being withheld at the family’s request, has been told that his services will not be held at his own church.

“He did know that his funeral wouldn’t happen there,” said Goodman. “And he had a very hurt look on his face when we told him that.”

The family has since found a different funeral venue in the area to host the services.

And Goodman will sing “The Anchor Holds” at his father’s funeral.

Anti-Gay Bridal Shop Chooses To Close In Advance Of Impending LGBT Protections

Photo Credit: W.W. Bridal Facebook page

It’s always interesting to see how folks on the other side of LGBT discrimination like to frame an issue to make themselves the victims.

In this article from Christian News, note how the writer says the owners of this Pennsylvania bridal shop declined “to assist a lesbian with her wedding.”

“Assisting” is also in the headline of the story.

The Christian owners of a bridal shop in Pennsylvania who have been receiving threats since declining to assist a lesbian with her wedding last July have decided to close their business due to fears of an impending ordinance that would require them to violate their faith, as well as the inability to market themselves in light of false negative reviews.

“The members of our town council have made it known they will pass an ordinance soon. We have chosen to close rather than be forced to go against our faith,” W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg, co-owned by Victoria Miller and her three daughters, explained on social media on Sunday.

The boutique has discounted all wedding gowns to half price as the women plan to close their doors permanently on March 30.

As previously reported, the bridal shop first came under criticism in 2014 after Miller and her daughters declined to schedule a gown fitting for a lesbian and her partner.

“We feel we have to answer to God for what we do,” Miller told reporters at the time. “And providing those two girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God’s law.”

Now, “assisting” sounds like the owners of this dress shop would be deeply involved in the details of this couple’s wedding, doesn’t it?

I’m picturing designing, sewing, fittings, perhaps even dressing the brides on the day of the wedding…?

The article goes on to say the pending ordinance “would prohibit them from declining to take part in same-sex ceremonies.”

Take part?

In truth, they would have sold the bride a dress and done a fitting. That’s it.

Anti-LGBT bakers at least complain that the “creation” of wedding cakes for LGBT weddings requires their creative gifts in creating a cake.

This dress shop would have sold a dress. A dress they didn’t create.

You’ll note the article didn’t bother to interview anyone from the local LGBT community.

By the way, a crowdfunding campaign has been setup with a goal of $90,000 in hopes of another financial windfall as we’ve seen in similar situations.

To date, the campaign has raised less than $4,000.

Federal Appeals Court Rules Civil Rights Act Of 1964 Bans Anti-Gay Discrimination In Workplace

In a huge win for the LGBTQ community, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans anti-gay discrimination.

The case examined whether Donald Zarda, a now-deceased skydiver who alleged he was fired from Altitude Express for being gay, could sue under existing civil rights law because sexual-orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.

From Dominic Holden at Buzzfeed:

The Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled Monday, “We now hold that sexual orientation discrimination constitutes a form of discrimination ‘because of . . . sex,’ in violation of Title VII.” In doing so, the court overruled a lower court — and a precedent from two previous court cases — and remanded the case to be litigated in light of their reading of Title VII.

The decision holds national implications due to its high tier in the judicial system, and because it’s seen as a litmus test of the Trump administration’s ability — or inability — to curb LGBT rights through court activism. The Justice Department had injected itself into the case even though it wasn’t a party to the lawsuit and doesn’t normally involve itself in private employment disputes.

“Sexual orientation is a function of sex and, by extension, sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination,” the majority wrote.

In reaching its decision Monday, the court pointed out that anti-gay discrimination would not exist “but for” a person’s sex. That is to say, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals would not experience this type of unequal treatment had been born a different gender, or were attracted to a different sex.

Robert A. Katzmann, the 2nd Circuit’s chief judge who authored the majority ruling, was joined by nine other judges while three judges dissented.

This ruling is also a blow to the Trump administration which was not a party to the case.

The Justice Department sent Deputy Assistant Attorney General Hashim Mooppan to take part in oral arguments in September arguing that despite Title VII employers should be able to fire workers for being gay.

Zarda had apparently told a female student as they prepared for a sky-diving jump that he was “100 percent gay” in an attempt to make the woman less anxious about the close physical contact involved in being strapped to her instructor.

The woman’s boyfriend complained to the school about the encounter, and that led to Zarda’s dismissal.

This ruling now allows Zarda’s estate to file a discrimination lawsuit against Altitude Express.

The case was heard by all 13 eligible judges of the 2nd Circuit, known as an en banc hearing, meaning the only option for left for the haters is to head to the U.S. Supreme Court.