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Wedding Service Bans Texas Venue That Refused to Serve Gay Couple

TheKnot.com banned a Texas venue that told a gay couple their marriage was not “God’s plan”

Aaron Lucero and Jeff Cannon. Photo via Facebook.

Wedding service TheKnot.com banned a Celina, Texas wedding venue that refused to rent its services out to a gay couple, telling them their union violated God’s “plan and design for marriage.”

On social media, the couple, Aaron Lucero and Jeff Cannon, publicly called for The Knot to ban The Venue at Waterstone from its platform. The Knot helps spouses-to-be find vendors to perform wedding services.

After several outlets reported the couples’ story, including Deep South Voice, The Knot sent a letter to Out.com announcing it had banned the The Venue at Waterstone from its platform.

“Our company supports everyone’s right to marry the person they love and prohibits any vendor on our site from discriminating against a couple based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.,” a spokesperson from XO Group, which owns The Knot, wrote to Out.

Lucero also called for businesses that refuse to serve LGBT people to publicly post their discriminatory policies.

“It is not enough just have the ‘LGBTQ+ Friendly’ badge because the website doesn’t tell us which vendors refuse to provide service. We shouldn’t have to preface every contact with a vendor with ‘do you provide service for same-sex weddings?’”

You can read Deep South Voice’s initial report on this story at this link, or you can read it below.

Original Story:

A wedding venue in Texas allegedly refused to serve a gay couple because the owners believe it would violate God’s “plan and design for marriage.”

“Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I personally experienced the ugly scourge of discrimination in this country,” Dallas resident Aaron Lucero wrote on Facebook Sunday evening.

He said he and his fiance, Jeff Cannon, had been looking at venues for months. They had narrowed the venues down, and had even excitedly shared photos of the Venue at Waterstone with family and friends. On Saturday, though, Waterstone emailed to say they would not host their wedding.

“The design for marriage that we hold to is based upon the design He set forth which is a representation of the bride of Christ joined to the Groom (Christ who is the very God we worship),” the email reads. “Given His plan and design for marriage, we dare not veer from His instruction lest we be guilty of altering what He has set forth…We are also and foremost born again believers sharing His Spirit directing and effecting [sic] our consciences. We are not able to violate our conscience without severe ramifications to them and our relationship with Him.”

Nowhere on the venue’s website is it noted that they do not serve LGBT people.

Lucero said the couple were not sharing their story because they believe the venue should be forced to marry them.

“It is because they refuse to publicize their discriminatory policy on their website,” Lucero wrote. “They want to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community in private. We respect their right to refuse service because in the State of Texas there are no laws to protect discrimination against sexual orientation. However, we don’t want any other gay couples to experience what we have been through this weekend. And we think all of their prospective customers should know that they are patronizing a business that discriminates.”

Lucero also said TheKnot.com, a site that helps couples find wedding venues and casts itself as pro-LGBT, should do a better job of filtering out which venues it promotes.

TheKnot.com should require that if a vendor wants to be promoted on their website they must publicize their policy on providing services to gay couples especially for states like Texas that don’t have legal protection from discrimination,” Lucero wrote. “It is not enough just have the ‘LGBTQ+ Friendly’ badge because the website doesn’t tell us which vendors refuse to provide service. We shouldn’t have to preface every contact with a vendor with ‘do you provide service for same-sex weddings?’”

In its email, the venue sought to assure the two men that they “operate out of gratitude for His love for us” and that they understand how, “in light of the culture,” the couple might mistake that love and gratitude “as being unloving toward others.”

“Though we do not host LGBTQ weddings or receptions, we are more than happy to converse further and explain our beliefs and the love God has shown us as well as how He is conforming our lives to Himself,” the venue added.

Lucero told the venue his story in an emailed reply. He and his future husband were raised in religious families that believed homosexuality was a sin, he wrote. “I am grateful that my very conservative God fearing family has accepted me and my partner for who we are and that God has changed their hearts as well even as the church they attend continues to preach against homosexuality,” he added.

He told the venue he prayed that God would one day open their hearts, and urged them to make their policy clear publicly so that other couples would not have to endure the same treatment.

Lucero wrote that other venues turned them down, too.

“We reached out to other venues with whom we had appointments today, and received responses that they were not ‘well equipped’ or ‘a good fit’ for same-sex weddings which made us feel even worse because they tried to disguise their discrimination,” he wrote.

Written by Ashton Pittman

Ashton is the founder of Deep South Voice. He is also the State Reporter for the Jackson Free Press, where he covers Mississippi politics and campaigns. A Mississippi native who studied journalism and politics at the University of Southern Mississippi, his work has appeared in The Guardian, the New York Times, on NBC.com, and a number of other outlets. He has made appearances on MSNBC, NPR Radio, and several other broadcast and radio shows. You can follow him on Twitter @ashtonpittman.

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