N. Carolina wedding venue denies gay couple citing ‘Christian values’

Newly engaged couples Cassie Mayfield and Brian May did not expect the online backlash to ignor when they shared in a recent email exchange on Facebook that Mayfield had with an employee at a North Carolina wedding venue.

In the exchange, Mayfield mentions possible wedding dates, estimated number of guests, and “other brides”. In response, the venue informed him that the Eye Warehouse in Winston-Salem “does not host marital sex ceremonies.”

Shortly after their engagement Briana May, left, and Casey Mayfield.Chelsea clayton

“If you’re wondering how wedding planning is going … Thanks so much to the warehouse on Ivy for letting us know we’re not welcome,” May captioned the photo of the exchange, including Tuesday Had over 1,400 shares.

“I was kind of speechless,” Mayfield said reading the email. “I had to hand the phone to Brie when I got it.”

“I hoped it wouldn’t happen in North Carolina, but I felt there was a chance. I did not expect this from a site in Winston, ”said 25-year-old Mayfield, who has lived in the area for the past 10 years. Born and raised in Winston-Salem on 29 May.

The pair met on the dating app Bumble two years ago and got engaged to Cassie Mussreaves while listening to her favorite album, “Golden Hour”, last month. He had only begun planning his wedding, which he hopes to hold in the fall of 2022. Mayfield said and she first heard about the warehouse on Ivy through Wedding Wire, an online wedding resource.

‘Christian values’

The venue did not tell May and Mayfield why he does not host same-sex wedding ceremonies. However, in an email exchange with NBC News, the same email account, which lists the sender’s name as Daniel Stanley, confirmed the couple’s beliefs around the decision.

“We will allow any color, caste, religion or belief to use our site at any time,” the email states. “While we love and respect everyone in our community, make and believe in our own decisions, we also strongly believe in our Christian values.”

Several attempts were made to confirm that the statement was sent by Stanley, whose LinkedIn account stated that he was the director of the venue, he was ignored, as it was a question about ownership of the venue.

According to the North Carolina incorporation filings, The Warehouse on IV is owned by STC Properties of Forsyth County and lists Thomas Collins and Scott Seckler as the company’s managers. Reporting from The Winston-Salem Monthly, which recently facilitated interviews with the Seckler family about the open site, confirms Seckler’s ownership.

Several attempts to reach Seckler and Collins were unsuccessful, and by Monday the venue had taken over their Facebook and Instagram pages.

‘Free to discriminate’

Where anti-discrimination legislation begins and the First Amendment and religious freedom rights cease is an open question legally – and it depends on state law.

Masterpiece Cakeship v in the case of high-profile 2018. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court, ruled in favor of Christian baker Jack Phillips, who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. But instead of answering the original question of whether it is legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, the High Court simply found that Phillips’ concerns were not quite considered by Colorado authorities.

In a similar case, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that Arlene Stutzman, owner of Arlen’s Flowers, was violating that state’s anti-discrimination law for refusing to provide flowers for a gay couple’s wedding ceremony Were. The shop has appealed to the Supreme Court for the second time. Its petition is pending.

According to the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBTQ tank, unlike Colorado and Washington State, North Carolina – along with 22 other states across the US – does not have legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public housing. And until this month, the state had a moratorium on cities undergoing their own illegal protections.

With no clear state protections and no federal law banning LGBTQ discrimination in public housing, states like North Carolina leave little room for legal recourse according to Paul Smith, a professor at Georgetown Law School who served in 2003 In the case of LGBTQ rights, Lawrence v argued. Before the Texas Supreme Court.

“The only shot seems to be a state law that prohibits sex discrimination in the provision of goods and services and then convinces North Carolina to read ‘sex discrimination’ in its law, as the majority has Did in Boschok. [v. Clayton County, Georgia], “Smith said, referring to this year’s landmark ruling that found Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964 offered workplace discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Rick Su, a professor of law at the University of North Carolina, was even less optimistic when he arrived in the state.

Subici told NBC News, “There is no state law on public housing related to disabilities in North Carolina, nor protection of anti-discrimination laws.” “There is no federal law to protect LGBT [people] Either, it would mean that the venue of the marriage is non-discriminatory. “

However, there are two things that could potentially change this in the near future: the Act of Equality and the City of Fulton vs. Philadelphia. There is a pre-proposed federal law that would add LGBTQ protections to existing federal civil rights legislation. It passed the House last year, and President-Elect Joe Biden has said he intends to sign it within his first 100 days in office.

The latter is a case before the Supreme Court that will determine whether a government-funded, religiously affiliated child welfare agency can circumvent local illegal laws and refuse to work with LGBTQ people. If according to legal experts, the judiciary issues a comprehensive decision in the case, it may have far-reaching effects.

a silver lining

Mayfield said that he and May “are not considering legal action at the moment,” but added that they “wanted to email our friends to help pass and pass discrimination laws for LGBTQ people” Urging for. “

In addition to advocating for legislative action, the couple also want to talk to the local LGBTQ community about the policies on ivy.

“We have a lot of gay friends in our circle, so I wanted to expect people to save me time and kind, injury and energy, depending on their sexual orientation,” May said of her decision to go public . Test.

In addition to receiving “kind and encouraging words” in response to her hitherto viral Facebook post, May said she also received some useful wedding tips and proposals.

“We have received a lot of great recommendations for other vendors and locations, and we are offering services to people,” she said.

Summary of the experience – from the site’s rejection to viral social media response to messages of support – Mayfield said that it’s all “certainly overwhelming, but in a good way.”

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