Wedding Dinner Reservation Cancelled By Homophobic Restaurant

Kendall Brown (L) and Mindy Rackley (R)

A same-sex couple in Missouri were surprised when the restaurant they had booked for their wedding rehearsal dinner cancelled the reservation upon learning their sexual orientation.

Kendall Brown and Mindy Rackley are getting married on June 15, and had planned on holding their rehearsal dinner on June 13 at Madison’s Café.

Newsweek reports that the couple chose the restaurant because it had been Rackley’s father’s favorite place to dine before he passed away two-and-a-half years ago. Holding the dinner there prior to their union was meant as a way to honor his memory.

Brown’s mother made the reservation on Monday evening, but the next day Brown received a call from the cafe asking for more information.

“Her first question was, ‘what is your groom’s name?’” explained Brown. “I said, ‘I’m marrying a woman actually and her name is Mindy.’”

From the other end of the call came the question: “Your spouse is another woman?”

Brown told the woman ‘yes.’

And with that, the woman at the restaurant told Brown, “We’re gonna have to refer you to someone else for your dinner because we don’t condone that kind of relationship.”

“Out of love for you, we’re going to have to decline your business because we believe you’re in an unhealthy relationship,” added the woman.

Brown immediately called her fiancée in tears.

Rackley told Newsweek the conversation “saddened” her.

“I just can’t believe that this is still happening and that we get treated differently because of who we love,” she said. “Who we love doesn’t change who we are and, I don’t know, it just saddens me.”

Note: Missouri does not prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the Show Me state.

Local news station KMOV reached out to Madison’s Café for their side of the story.

According to the news station, “A woman at the restaurant acknowledged the couple’s situation but did not want to comment.”

KMOV reports in front of Madison’s Cafe (screen capture)

After their story went viral on social media, several local restaurants reached out, and the couple has booked another establishment for their dinner.

Brown told Newsweek she understands that the owner’s of Madison’s Café are entitled to their beliefs, but they shared their story on social media because they want other people to be “aware so that they don’t have to feel the way we felt.”

“In this day and age, this is just not okay,” she added.

Pennsylvania Wedding Venue Refuses To Host Same-Sex Weddings

Steven Dinnocenti, a retired educator who has attended Star Barn events in the past, recently shared on his social mediahis outrage upon discovering the venue has a ‘no same-gender weddings’ policy.
(image via Depositphotos)

Another day, another wedding vendor refusing to serve same-sex couples.

This time, it’s Star Barn Village, located near Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.

Steven Dinnocenti, a retired educator who has attended Star Barn events in the past, recently shared on his social mediahis outrage upon discovering the venue has a ‘no same-gender weddings’ policy.

“Never again will I step on (their) grounds,” wrote the openly gay married man.

“What one does not know is the blatant discrimination they have towards the LGBTQ community and other individuals that they have written in their Core Values statement,” added Dinnocenti.

He also posted a link to Star Barn’s ‘Core Values’ statement which reads, in part, “We provide marriage-related services as ordained by God’s Word, the Holy Bible, that are consistent with the written truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

At this writing, Dinnocenti’s Facebook post has been shared over 360 times and garnered over 560 comments.

PennLive spoke with the owner of the venue, David Abel, who says he “does not tolerate discrimination against anyone, not in his business or in a public setting.”

“No persons will be discriminated against,” he insisted to PennLive. “However, we ask people to respect that we have core tenants in our faith and our beliefs and we cannot participate in any event that would be in contradiction to those core tenants – one of them being marriage, which has been biblically based for thousands of years as being between a man and a woman.”

He also asserts that religious freedoms are one of the principles under which the United States was founded. “It was also founded as one nation under God not over God,” he said.

(photo via Depositphotos)
But Dinnocenti told PennLive he flips that script. “The bottom line is go back to the Constitution,” he says. “The Bible should not be dictating the rule of the land.”

It’s important to note that Pennsylvania does not have any LGBTQ protections on the books. So, it would seem Mr. Abel is legally allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.

This highlights, yet again, the need for The Equality Act to be passed in Congress and signed into law. The federal legislation would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and erase any confusion about refusing services to people based only on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

For now, however, PennLive does point out that another wedding venue, Riverdale Manor and Thyme and Seasons Catering in nearby Lancaster, has seen its same-sex wedding business thrive since marriage equality became the law of the land in 2015.

Maureen Raezer, owner and president of the venue, told PennLive she subscribes to “the principles of inclusive economics.”

In fact, Raezer says she’s stopped doing business with vendors who don’t appreciate her inclusive wedding industry approach.

“I think they see it as they are somehow condoning gay marriage by participating in it,” Raezer said. “I‘m not sure how selling somebody a wedding cake does that. If I sold cookies to someone, why would I care what their sexual orientation was?”

She also believes that diversity is the future of economics. For her, a business model of excluding people “financially makes no sense.”

(h/t PennLive)

Another Day, Another Homophobic Baker Refuses To Bake A Wedding Cake

A baker in Tennessee told a lesbian couple she wouldn't make a wedding cake for their wedding because of her deeply held religious beliefs
(image via Depositphotos)

Another day, another baker refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

This time, the baker is Susie Dennison of Susie’s Sweets bakery in Burns, Tennessee.

Brandi Ray shared in a Facebook post that she met with Dennison to arrange for a wedding cake for her upcoming nuptials.

Apparently the chat was very pleasant, but Ray received a note from Dennison via Facebook afterwards saying she would not be able to make the cake because ‘Jesus.’

Dennison’s message read:

“I really enjoyed our time together and I truly wish you the best but after realizing that your union will be of the same sex, I cannot with my spiritual conviction and beliefs, do your cake! I want you to know in saying that, I do love you in The Lord! Had I known before you left, I would have said something then!”

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Ray responded. “Have a good night.”

Dennison claims in her note that she didn’t know it was to be a same-sex wedding, but Ray posted a photo of the invoice Dennison hand-wrote which clearly shows both brides’ names.

She also shared on her Facebook post that she mentioned her fiancée’s name, Michele Schmidt, “like 10,000 times” when she and Dennison met at the consultation.

According to the bakery’s website, Dennison says she “can bake any type of sweet treat you need for any occasion.”

Well, clearly not “any” occasion. Nowhere on the website does Dennison say she doesn’t make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

We’ve seen cases like this before, most notably in Colorado where anti-LGBTQ baker Jack Phillips, of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to bake a cake for a gay couple for their wedding celebration.

Phillips took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where he won a narrow victory when the high court ruled the Colorado civil rights commission had appeared to view his case with anti-religious bias.

Unlike Colorado, the state of Tennessee has no legal protections for LGBTQ citizens, so Dennison’s behavior here is totally legal.

🙁

Ray hasn’t indicated if she plans any kind of legal action.

Dallas Wedding Venue Kicked Off Wedding Planning Website For Dissing Gay Couple

A Dallas area wedding venue has been dropped from a major wedding planning site for turning away a gay couple’s business.
Jeffrey Cannon & Aaron Lucero (image via Facebook)

A Dallas area wedding venue has been dropped from a major wedding planning site for turning away a gay couple’s business.

Jeffrey Cannon and Aaron Lucero had been dating for three years when they became engaged last summer.

The couple decided they wouldn’t make a rush to the alter as Lucero is a teacher. “We knew we wanted to wait over a year just because of all the stresses of starting the new school year,” Lucero told OUT.

They had opened a couples profile on the popular wedding planning site, The Knot, which helps connect wedding vendors with possible clients.

So, after spending some weeks doing online research for options for their big day, the couple set out last Saturday to check out possible venues.

But at the end of a day of viewing venues, the couple received an email from The Venue at Waterstone, just outside of Dallas. The couple had visited The Venue that day and it was their leading choice for their wedding.

The owner of the wedding company, Lyle Wise, shared with the couple that the business was founded 27 years ago after he had a vision ‘from God.’

Writing that “The design for marriage that we hold to is based upon the design [God] set forth which is a representation of the bride of Christ joined to the groom,” Wise informed Lucero and Cannon that The Venue does not host same-sex weddings.

“Though we do not host LGBTQ weddings or receptions,” added Wise, “we are more than happy to converse and further explain our beliefs and the love God has shown us as well as how He is conforming our lives to himself.”

The couple posted the email to their Twitter account.

Note: nowhere on the website for The Venue does the company state it is a religious-based organization.

Lucero told OUT the email felt like “a punch to the gut.”

Cannon chose to respond to the email sharing with Wise that they, too, grew up with a religious background.

“Our prayer is that God will one day open your hearts as well so that you will be able to welcome all of His children into your beautiful venue,” wrote Cannon.

“Until that day comes however, we would petition you to please make your faith known to the public on your website and with Knot.com so that other same sex couples do not have to go through the same rejection that we have gone through with you,” he added.

After the denial, the couple decided to reach out to other venues and disclose they were gay in an effort to avoid any further awkward situations.

It turns out two of their appointments set for Sunday cancelled on the couple upon receiving the news saying they were not ‘well-equipped’ to host same-sex weddings.

Now, The Knot has a strict policy about discrimination which includes LGBT people.

In a June 2018 Instagram post, The Knot’s CEO Mike Steib, wrote, “When we learn that a vendor has violated these terms of service, we will remove the vendor’s storefront and refund his or her money.”

“We love our couples, and all of our couples deserve a marketplace free of unfair prejudice,” he added.

The parent company for The Knot, XO Group, issued a statement to OUT, which read, “Our company supports everyone’s right to marry the person they love and prohibits any vendor on our site from discriminating against a couple based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.”

OUT has since confirmed that The Venue at Waterstone has been banned from The Knot.

Lucero admits the action by The Knot was appreciated, but he says the website should be more transparent about vendors’ positions on same-sex weddings.

“They have the power to make a difference, not just by kicking companies off their market place, but by using their influence and power to really make a difference,” he told Out.

Apparently, companies can get a badge for their profile on The Knot that shows they welcome same-sex couples, but the website doesn’t offer a way to filter or search for those LGBT-inclusive businesses.

Brittny Drye, editor-in-chief of Love Inc. Magazine, says even though the U.S. is years past the legalization of marriage equality nationwide, there are still many wedding vendors who are not open to working with same-sex couples on their big day.

“While most are, I still receive responses from many who are not, even in progressive cities like New York and San Francisco,” says Drye. “Enough for me to know that we still have a long way to go.”

(h/t OUT)

Australian Wedding Magazine Closes Up Shop After Discriminating Against Same-Sex Weddings

White Magazine, an Australian wedding magazine, has shuttered after facing backlash for not including same-sex couples in the publication.

Founders Luke and Carla Burrell announced in a blog post that White Magazine would be shutting down after 12 years due to pressures after the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia at the beginning of the year.

Celebrating love and relationships – rather than selling products – has always been White’s message.

Last year the Australian law was changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. Since then we have been asked repeatedly why our magazine had not yet featured all couples.

Like many people, we have had to reflect on our beliefs, not to judge ourselves or others, but to intentionally make space for new conversations. It’s a long and continuing journey, it’s not black and white, there are so many grey areas that need to be explored. Our greatest mandate is to love and the biggest question we’ve continued to ask ourselves throughout it is, how do we best love?

Interestingly, the Burrell’s version of ‘best love’ was to not allow same-sex weddings to be presented in their publication.

After writing that they have “no desire but to love,” the Burrells say they had hoped to have “space to work through our thoughts and feelings.”

But they claim a “campaign” was launched against them and they’ve lost sponsors due to their one-sided position on the issue.

“We hope that one day soon our society can learn to accept people’s differences and different points of view and love each other no matter what,” they write in closing. “That’s where real positive change begins.”

The irony here for me, as an LGBTQ advocate, is the Burrells continue to pretend they didn’t ‘take a side’ when clearly they did. They didn’t learn to accept gay and lesbian couples’ differences.

Instead, they chose to ignore those same-sex couples who celebrated their happiest days.

And regarding losing sponsors, this would seem to me to be the free market at work.

In the end, statements of “How do we best love?” and “We’re not about sides, we’re about love, patience and kindness,” ring false for people running an admittedly secular publication who ultimately chose discrimination over equality.

Priest Fired For ‘Liking’ A Facebook Photo Of Same-Sex Wedding

Keith Kozak (screen capture)

Keith Kozak, the now-former outreach minister for the Catholic Discese of Cleveland, finds himself unemployed after liking a photo of a same-sex wedding on Facebook.

Showing up for a Human Resources appointment, Kozak though the meeting would be about a promotion. Instead, he got quite the opposite.

“When they called me in, I was thinking it had something to do with that,” Kozak said. “They sat me down and they said we had seen some things on Facebook and Twitter and that would like to talk to you about that.”

The next day he received a termination letter.

The 39-year-old admits he wasn’t out at work. “I didn’t feel comfortable doing it, but I also thought it wasn’t important at the time,” said Kozak.

Saying the Church had been “very discriminatory,” Kozak took his case to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Keith Kozak (screen capture)

Just last month, Cuyahoga County added sexual orientation and gender identity to its protected classes.

But in this case, it appears the Catholic Church may be exempt from following those laws.

From the local ABC news affiliate:

While the organization didn’t specifically comment on his case, a spokesperson told News 5 the Cleveland Diocese might be within its rights, citing “ministerial exception.” It prohibits clergy members from bringing claims under federal discrimination laws because the relationship between an organized church and its ministers is its lifeblood.

“It’s a wake-up call for me, it’s a wake-up call that I didn’t really realize the Catholic Church would act like this,” said Kozak.

For its part, the Catholic Church issued a statement saying it doesn’t make public comments on personnel decisions, but is confident Kozak’s firing was “appropriate.”

Tennessee: State GOP Uses Gay Couple’s Wedding Photo In Attack Ad

A gay couple in Tennessee were surprised recently to find their wedding photo being used in a political attack ad by the Tennessee Republican Party.

The couple’s ceremony was officiated by the Democratic candidate for State Senate District 14, Gayle Jordan, and the state GOP party used the photo without permission.

The couple, Shane Morgan and his husband Landon, are private citizens and they feel the attack ad is using their wedding illegally.

After years in the Air Force and enduring the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” years, Morgan says wearing his wedding ring has deep personal meaning. “More than words can say,” Morgan said.

After nine years together, the couple married this past December.

The photo was taken from Jordan’s Facebook page where she had posted the pic with the joking caption, “Doing my part to destroy the fabric of American society.”

The attack ad features the picture with the text, “Liberal Gayle Jordan will ‘destroy the fabric of American society.’ Take her word for it.”

According to the Nashville NBC affiliate, the state GOP organization says the comment is very serious and the mailer has nothing to do with the couple.

Morgan and his husband have hired attorney Sunny Eaton of Eastside Legal, who asserts her clients’ privacy has been violated and they have been exploited for political purposes.

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.

Parkland Shooting Survivor: Society Will Shrug This Off But “March For Hours” Over A Rainbow Wedding Cake

Speaking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper today, Parkland student Cameron Kasky called out Americans who offer little more than “thoughts and prayers” when shooting tragedies happen, but will “march for hours if they have to bake a rainbow wedding cake.”

“This is the time to talk about guns. There’s much more that can be done, much more that needs to be done and much more that people like Sen Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott are not doing. It’s scary to think these are the people who are making our laws when our community just took 17 bullets to the heart.

“It feels like the only people who don’t care are the people making the laws. There is a segment of this society that will shrug this off and send their thoughts and prayers but march for hours if they have to bake a rainbow wedding cake.”

Kasky also called the response by Republican lawmakers a “facade” acted out via talking points from the National Rifle Association.

Watch Kasky below.

(h/t JoeMyGod)

Jimmy Kimmel Trolls California Baker Who Refuses To Make Same-Sex Wedding Cake

I recently reported on the ruling by a judge in Kern County, California, that allowed a Bakersfield baker to continue to deny selling a wedding cake to same-sex couples based on the baker’s “deeply held religious beliefs.”

Jimmy Kimmel obviously heard about the ruling and recently staged this little skit to explain why the thinking behind the ruling is flawed.

Here’s the clip description:

A controversial decision came from a court in Kern County, California that ruled in favor of a bakery that refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding because the owner said it would violate her Christian faith.

This isn’t the first instance of a bakery refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, there’s a case right now in the Supreme Court, but the judge’s ruling in this particular case is interesting. He says the bakery would have violated the law if it refused to sell the gay couple a cake that was already baked, but that they can’t be forced to bake one.

So Jimmy uses a common restaurant dining experience to explain why this isn’t right.