A devastated same-sex couple say they were turned away from a popular wedding venue “under the guise of Christianity”.
McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards got engaged on Valentine’s Day and began searching for wedding venues in North Carolina. They settled on Highgrove Estate, a romantic estate overlooking Lake Laurel in Fuquay-Varina.
The first red flag came when the couple filled out an intake form on the estate’s website, which only provided spaces for the name of the “bride” and “groom.”
“In the notes section I just said we were a groom and groom,” Edwards told ABC11. “It’s not like we can ignore that and then show up.”
Two days later, their application was refused. A Highgrove Estate employee told them the venue’s owners “have chosen not to participate in same-sex weddings at this time”.
The couple were dismayed by the decision. “Disheartening is the word I would use,” Henderson said. “We had not had anything like this throughout the process or really in our lives.
“This is us. We are gay and we did not choose to be gay,” he continued. “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.”
In a statement to ABC11, the venue insisted that it does not discriminate against any people or group as it welcomes LGBT+ employees and vendors.
However, the owners added: “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 honour Him above what the world decides what marriage should be.”
This explanation didn’t fly with Henderson and Edwards. The couple say they have many friends who grew up Christian, and Highgrove Estate’s sentiment isn’t shared by them.