Minnesota’s state Department of Human Rights announced a legal settlement on Friday in a dispute between a young gay couple who are getting married and a hunting club that refused to host their wedding.
Cole Frey, 20, and Adam Block, 18 met last October and announced plans to marry in November and the pair contacted LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation in February to book its hunting club building as the venue for their wedding.
LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation did not initially realize it was a same-sex couple trying to book the venue and agreed to take Frey’s booking.
However when he went to pay a security deposit and sign papers for the booking a few weeks later the club cancelled the booking.
‘That’s when they found out it would be between two males,’ Frey told Minnesota’s Star Tribune newspaper.
‘They told us they don’t condone same-sex marriage, and they wouldn’t be marrying us on their property.’
Same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota in August of last year and the young couple’s discrimination case is the first to be concluded in the state involving gay gay wedding booking.
LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation agreed to pay the couple around $8,500 to cover the cost of their wedding at another venue, apologized to them and made an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to abide by the state’s non-discrimination law in future.
LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation’s lawyer Paul Rogosheske said the hunting club had simply misunderstood the law.
Minnesota exempted religious groups from having to solemnize same-sex marriages when it passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in 2013 but not businesses or individuals.
‘They made a mistake and we did everything in our power to correct it,’ Rogosheske told the newspaper.
‘This couple is going to have a great wedding and I can assure you LeBlanc’s is going to be open to everybody.’
By the time that the dispute was settled the hunting club had already been booked for a different wedding and the couple now plan to marry next Friday at Camp Ripley Chapel with a reception at a private residence in Little Falls.
‘We kind of came to the conclusion, anyway, that we didn’t want to have it there because we didn’t want to be associated with them in that way,’ Frey said.
‘It’s not my place if someone in their religion feels this is wrong. But at the same time, it’s a feeling that people need to accept what’s going on and that this is becoming the norm.’