Two veterans of the Iraq War have publicly denounced a wedding venue that refused to host their same-sex commitment ceremony after initially agreeing to it.
Anthony Wilfert and his partner, Brian Blas, of Nolensville, Tenn., thought they had found the perfect venue in Nashville’s Mint Springs Farm, a private venue without religious affiliation, according to the Huffington Post. Upon their initial tour of the farm, employees assured the couple they would be welcome to book the venue for their commitment ceremony.
Wilfert told the Huffington Post that the two Mint Springs employees “explicitly made it clear that it was not an issue, that they would host that type of ceremony.”
Just two days later, Mint Springs’ owner sent Wilfert and Blas an email saying the farm would not be able to act as the venue for their ceremony, citing Tennessee’s ban on gay marriage as justification, according to an advocate.com article.
“Unfortunately, until same-sex marriage is legal in the state of Tennessee, we cannot participate in this ceremony at our venue,” read the email. “I wish we could help, I truly do, but our hands are tied in this situation.”
Wilfert and Blas met while serving together at Kentucky’s Fort Campbell and became a couple nine years ago. Both did tours of duty in Iraq under the now-repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, according to Advocate.com.
“To have fought in the military for freedoms and liberties of all Americans, it can be quite deflating to come back and now fight a whole new set of obstacles,” Wilfert told Nashville’s WSMV-TV.
“It is ironic, we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, in large part, to defeat hatred and prejudice, but in returning home, many of our warriors have experienced the same hatred and prejudice they risked their lives to defeat,” says Peter B. Olson of The Landing at Northcut. “They’re welcome to come to Seattle where commitment, vows, and our Veterans are appreciated!”
Several instances of wedding venues and wedding-related businesses across the country coming under fire for denying their services to gay couples have taken place over the last few months, the Huffington Post reports. These venues and businesses have cited both their state marriage laws and their personal religious beliefs as justification for turning same-sex couples away.
Wilfert and Blas say they will continue to search for a venue that will welcome their ceremony regardless of state laws, advocate.com reports. Tennessee’s current nondiscrimination law does not include terms for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.