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A North Carolina lesbian couple says they were rejected by a local wedding venue because the director refuses to host same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Kasey Mayfield and Brianna May, of Winston-Salem, N.C., were planning to marry one another in the late fall of 2022. The two inquired as to whether The Warehouse on Ivy, a popular event space that markets itself as a wedding venue and has received rave reviews on Wedding Wire, would be able and willing to host the couple’s wedding.
After Mayfield mentioned the “other bride” in an email exchange with the venue, she received a message reading, “We do not host same-sex marriage ceremonies.” May posted a photo of the exchange on her Facebook.
“If you’re wondering how wedding planning is going…thanks so much to The Warehouse on Ivy for letting us know we’re not welcome.” The post struck a chord with users and has racked up 1,500 shares as of December 23.
Speaking to NBC News, Mayfield, 25, who has lived in Winston-Salem for the past 10 years, said the exchange left her “speechless.”
“I just had to like hand the phone over to Bri when I got it,” she said. “I had hoped that this wouldn’t happen in North Carolina, but I thought there was a chance it may. I didn’t expect it from a venue in Winston.”
Although the venue did not explicitly explain why it refuses to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies, NBC News was able to glean more information in an email exchange with Daniel Stanley, the sender listed on the email to Mayfield, whose LinkedIn page indicates he’s the director of The Warehouse on Ivy.
“We will allow anyone of any color, race, religion, or belief to use our venue at any given time,” Stanley told NBC News in an emailed statement, adding, “[a]lthough we love and respect everyone in our community, their own decision making and beliefs, we also strongly believe in our Christian values.”
In response to May’s Facebook post, The Warehouse on Ivy’s Yelp page experienced an influx of comments and negative reviews, forcing Yelp to disable the comments on its profile. The Google reviews have been similarly harsh, with more than a third of commenters claiming the venue engages in discrimination.
The couple received messages from other local venues offering to host the couple’s wedding for free.
“Brianna and I would like to thank everyone who had kind and supportive words for us,” Mayfield later posted an update to her own Facebook page. “To everyone with recommendations, we can’t wait to look through them and continue planning our wedding and share them with other queer couples facing the same obstacles.”
She urged commenters and viewers of local news broadcasts covering the story to write their local lawmakers about the importance of nondiscrimination legislation for LGBTQ people. Currently, North Carolina is one of 27 states without a statewide law prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
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