A Christian wedding venue owner in Texas has come under fire after he turned away a gay couple who wanted to host their upcoming wedding at the facility.
Lyle Wise, who owns The Venue at Waterstone in Celina, emailed the couple Jan. 19 and informed them that the ceremony could not be held there because same-sex weddings are a violation of his family's religious beliefs. Celina is about an hour north of Dallas.
"Our venue came about as a vision given to me roughly 27 years ago. That vision was from God and I had no knowledge or familiarity with wedding venues at the time. We have tried to honor that vision by following His instructions and to serve as by His example," Wise wrote in an email to the couple, which has been shared on Twitter.
"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.) 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," he continued.
In Texas, businesses have the right to refuse service based on sexual orientation.
What did the couple say?
The couple, Aaron Lucero and Jeff Cannon, who are planning to wed in November, received Wise's email the day before their scheduled tour of the facility.
"It's 2019, is this really happening to us? I was kind of shocked," Lucero told the Dallas Morning News. "The Supreme Court has already said that gay marriage is legal. What is the issue?"
Lucero and Cannon said they didn't find any information on the venue's website that stated the policy on gay nuptials.
"It's their right to refuse service to us, but if you're going to do that at least just be transparent with your policy and put that on your website," Lucero added.
They took to social media where they posted the email from Wise, along with their response.
"There is nothing on your website that shares your vision from God that prohibits same sex weddings which is a little surprising considering what an important role your faith was in deciding to start this business," the couple wrote in response to Wise's email.
"Had we known this upfront we would not have given your venue a second thought and would not be as disappointed as we are now having received your rejection email," the message continued. "We were recommended to your venue by friends that were married there and I am sure they had no idea they were patronizing a business that discriminates against LGBT couples."
Lucero told Out magazine that he was so distraught that he spent the day crying.
"When we read that email, it was like a punch to the gut," Lucero said. "I'm Mexican and I immigrated here when I was 2 years old. I now live in Texas. This is a state that is very Republican. I'm a Democrat. We both grew up Mormon. So there's a lot of reasons for me to have experienced discrimination, but I never did, so this was really emotional."
The Knot, a wedding planning platform, removed the venue from its website after the story made the news.
"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, told Out in a statement.