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Wedding venue in north Texas refuses service for same-sex couple 

Wedding venue in north Texas refuses service for same-sex couple 

Texas AG wants to stop gay marriage

A rustic establishment in North Texas has attracted public attention for refusing to host a same-sex wedding because of religious beliefs.

The owners of The Venue at Waterstone said they would not host the same-sex wedding as it went against their religious beliefs.

The case is another instance of the debate about religious freedoms and LGBTI rights, a polarising issue in the US in recent years.

‘[They] told us we were not welcomed there’

Couple Aaron Lucero and Jeff Cannon had arranged to hold their wedding ceremony at the venue in Celina, Texas.

However, the day before the couple was due to tour the venue, the owner contacted the couple to say that the wedding could not go ahead.

‘[The] night before was when they contacted us and told us that, you know, we were not welcomed there,’ Cannon told TV channel NBC DFW.

‘Before that, we never even thought that we needed to tell people that we were, you know, doing a same-sex wedding. We thought that a wedding is a wedding.’

The owner of The Venue At Waterstone said that the decision to refuse the wedding was based on his religious beliefs, which he said did not recognize same-sex marriages.

In an email to the couple, he said that his beliefs that marriage ‘is a representation of the bride of Christ joined to the groom (Christ who is the very God we worship). Given His plan and design for marriage, we dare not veer from His instruction… we are not able to violate our conscience.’

No legal ramifications

After refusing the couple, The Venue At Waterstone was removed from the wedding planning website, TheKnot.com.

However, it is unlikely the venue owners will face any legal repercussions.

The part of Texas in question does not have any laws which prohibit businesses from refusing service to people because of their sexual orientation.

While the state does have anti-discrimination laws, these usually only apply in larger, metropolitan areas.

Lyle Wise, the owner of The Venue At Waterstone, said in a statement: ‘We are a family of believers. We love all people because Christ first loved us […] We cannot violate the convictions God has placed within us. In love, we would never affirm anyone in something that was to their detriment.’

Polarising debate

This is not the first occasion in which the argument for ‘religious freedoms’ has clashed with protection against anti-LGBTI discrimination in the States.

A high-profile case saw a baker from Colorado, Jack Philips, claiming that his religious beliefs prevented him from making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012.

The case ended up in the US Supreme Court, which ruled 7-2 in favor of Philips in June last year.

Conservative religious groups have become further emboldened under the presidency of Donald Trump, after he made moves to protect ‘religious freedoms’, and undermine anti-LGBTI discrimination measures brought in during the Obama administration.

LGBTI rights groups condemned the move for setting a dangerous precedent for the removal of basic anti-discrimination rights for the LGBTI community.