A lesbian couple who asked to hold their wedding at a California winery were turned down because of the owner’s “religious beliefs.”
One of the brides posted her correspondence with the winery on Facebook to call for a boycott after its “overt homophobia”.
The email from Viaggio winery’s weddings and events director read: “While Viaggio Winery welcomes your business, we have never hosted a same-sex marriage.
“[The owners] understand that California statutory law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, and they don’t like to think they would ever discriminate on that basis even if a law allowed them to do so.
“However, the owner also has a very strong personal religious belief regarding marriage, which is for marriage to be between heterosexual couples only. They believe that the United States Constitution and the California Constitution protect these religious beliefs and their right to express them.”
It then said that the owners would be willing to let the couple hold their reception there and take photos in their wedding dresses, as long as the ceremony was not on their property.
Responses to the Facebook post included: “The nerve thinking you and your beautiful bride would want to spend a dime there, or expose your family and friends to such a bigoted environment, after being told of the owner’s ‘feelings.’”
Another person said: “As a Christian I am so sick and tired of people using Jesus as a cover or an excuse for their homophobia. While they offer to take your money. How generous.”
The winery owners Teri and Larry Lawrence are also real estate agents.
According to her biography on the couple’s real estate website, Lawrence is “an active member of Eagle Forum of Sacramento, where she keeps abreast of current events regarding the family and business affairs”.
The Eagle Forum of Sacramento says it opposes same-sex marriage, abortion, sex education that does not teach abstinence or “‘New World Order’ interventions”.
Lawrence later provided a statement to FOX40 in which she said she had changed her mind about allowing same-sex couples to marry at the winery.
She said: “I realise now that contrary to my intent, this was hurtful to the people involved. Our staff, our customers, and our community have helped me see that I was wrong.”
The couple found another venue and are now happily married.