Same-sex couple given approval by wedding venue, then denied - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Same-sex couple given approval by wedding venue, then denied

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NOLENSVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Two Iraq War veterans said they'd picked the perfect venue for their same-sex commitment ceremony. They said just days after employees told them they could hold their ceremony there, the owner called it off, saying they can't host the event until same-sex marriage is legal in Tennessee.

"It's pretty disheartening," said Anthony Wilfert of Nolensville. "I would've thought in 2014 that we're a lot more ahead of our time than we are."

Wilfert and Brian Blas became a couple nine years ago while serving with Fort Campbell.

"We served under Don't Ask, Don't Tell," said Wilfert.

Looking for a place to hold a commitment ceremony, Wilfert and Blas said an employee took them on a tour of Mint Springs Farm where they believed the rustic charm and fences along winding roads would be the perfect backdrop. The website even says, 'Mint Springs Farm is an all-inclusive venue.'

"I made it clear from the get-go that it was a same-sex ceremony," said Wilfert. "He explicitly made it clear that it was not an issue, that they would host that type of ceremony."

Wilfert and Blas said days after two employees told them it'd be fine to hold their ceremony at the venue, they got an e-mail from an owner at Mint Springs Farm reading, "Unfortunately, until same sex marriage is legal in the state of Tennesse, we cannot participate in this ceremony at our venue. I wish we could help, I truly do, but our hands are tied in this situation."

"It is a private venue," said Wilfert. "We purposefully chose a place that is not tied to a religious organization for that reason, so to mention something about state law is baffling."

"I just think it's a really horrible excuse for not wanting to host something," said Blas.

In a statement to Channel 4, an owner at Mint Springs Farm said, "We are deeply sorry that a staff member of ours was unaware of our policy and truly understand the disappointment of this couple. Our employee was simply trying to be helpful to this couple who visited our venue after hours. 

We only do weddings at our facility. When we went into this endeavor, we knew that due to the nature of our business, this situation would arise. However, Tennessee law currently states that same-sex marriage is prohibited by the Tennessee State Constitution. Because we only host weddings, we cannot violate Tennessee law. 

This decision does not in any way reflect or convey any personal feelings on this matter. 
We wish this couple the very best."

"To have fought in the military for freedoms and liberties of all Americans, it can be quite deflating to come back to fight a whole new set of obstacles," said Wilfert.

As for Wilfert and Blas, they said they're making new plans for a day friends and family can gather to celebrate their nine years.

"We'll go somewhere else, and I think that'll make for a better wedding at the end of the day," said Blas.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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