A Texas-based gay couple is crying foul after they say they were turned down by a reception venue who refused to host their forthcoming wedding.
As WFAA News 8 reports, Ben Allen and Justin Hudgins hoped to book a reception for 150 guests at the All Occasion Party Place near Fort Worth. But the couple says they were told by phone and email that the venue wouldn't host a same-sex wedding.
“It is because of God that I will not be a part in your reception, and I know he loves you, but not what you are doing,” All Occasion Party Place employee Robin Hearne is quoted by the news channel as having written to Hudgins in an e-mail. “I simply said I can not rent to you which is also my right.”
The couple, who will tie the knot in Mexico on April 6, say they were "floored" by the encounter.
"It almost felt like a sucker-punch to the face," Allen told NBCNFW. "I thought, in today's day and age, for someone to deny you simply because you date someone of the same sex, it doesn't really make sense to me."
As NBCNFW points out, the All Occasion Party Place is located outside the Fort Worth city limits, and therefore doesn't fall under the city's anti-discrimination code. Still, the case has nonetheless sparked the ire of local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates.
Notes Chuck Smith of Equality Texas, "Refusing to provide services or public accommodations to anyone solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is wrong."
Allen and Hudgins' case follows that of an Oregon-based lesbian couple, who were turned away by a local bakery after they sought a wedding cake.
"I apologized for wasting their time and said we don’t do same-sex marriages,” Sweet Cakes by Melissa owner Aaron Klein is quoted by KATU as saying. “I honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn’t mean to make anybody upset, [it’s] just something I believe in very strongly.”
In October 2012, a New York-based lesbian couple were similarly turned away by a rural farm where they hoped to tie the knot.
Robert Gifford, who owns Liberty Ridge Farm with his wife Cynthia, confirmed the news, telling WNYT: "I think it's our right to choose who we market to, like any business...we are a family business, and we just feel we ought to stay down the family path."