North Carolina wedding venue facing backlash after turning away gay couple
ABC News 11 screenshot

A gay couple in North Carolina who became engaged on Valentine's Day had their request to be married at a popular wedding venue denied and the blowback forced the facility to shut down their Facebook page.

According to a report from ABC News 11, attorney McCae Henderson and cosmetic dentist Ike Edwards were stunned when they sent in a request to reserve a date at Highgrove Estate in Fuquay-Varina only to be told they were not welcome after they noted on their application that the ceremony would have two grooms and no bride.

What they received back was a notice from the management of the facility stating "our owner has unfortunately chosen to not participate in same-sex weddings at this time," and suggested other places they might try.

With Edwards explaining, "In the notes section I just said we were a groom and groom. It's not like we can ignore that and then show up," he added, "We were both kind of shocked" by the response almost six years after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.

"This is us. We are gay and we did not choose to be gay," attorney Henderson explained. "The fact that we don't have access to things other people do is discrimination in my eyes. I think everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe to an extent. I don't think you get to be racist because your religion tells you to be racist. I don't think you get to be homophobic because your religion tells you to be homophobic."

According to the News 11 report, owners and management from Highgrove Estate refused to speak on camera, but did issue a statement reading, "Highgrove has always welcomed vendors, guests and employees of all orientations and we do not discriminate against a people or group. We believe in the sanctity of marriage as God says in the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman and we choose to honor Him above what the world decides what marriage should be."

They also acknowledged that they took their Facebook page down after they started to be attacked over their decision, stating, "The backlash is sad, it's been aggressive, hateful and designed to cause fear. What they are asking is for us to believe just like them and they will leave us alone. We stand by our beliefs in the sanctity of marriage and that is not going to change. We wish (McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards) to find the very best venue and that their special day is wonderful."

The venue did acknowledge that they have already had one wedding party make a request to cancel which has been honored.

With the Facebook page removed, critics of the decision to deny the couple a wedding on the grounds turned to Yelp which is now loaded with critical comments, including one person who wrote, " I am a local and I would never patronize this establishment after learning that they discriminate against the LGBTQ community. In this day and age it is disheartening to see this happening. I just lost my gay uncle to cancer last year. While he never married his partner of 35+ years, I would be deeply saddened if a venue like this were to turn him away. He held strong Christian values, attending Catholic Mass on a weekly basis his whole life. I question the Christian values of this establishment. Do they allow divorced individuals to remarry here? Seems they should be turned away as well, but I bet they aren't. Come on North Carolina, we can do better than this!"

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