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.
Here’s the response from The Venue at Waterstone who denied us yesterday. pic.twitter.com/ugDqTgb14Q
— Aaron Lucero (@locolucero) January 21, 2019
Note: nowhere on the website for The Venue does the company state it is a religious-based organization.
Lucero described the email as “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.
This was the eloquent response to them from my fiancé. pic.twitter.com/9CAVd2hkHs
— Aaron Lucero (@locolucero) January 21, 2019
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.”