GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A Grand Rapids wedding venue not suitable for LGBTQ couples has been cited by the city.
An investigation into Broadway Avenue, which opened this summer, found it violated the city’s human rights ordinance, a Grand Rapids spokesman said in a statement.
Specifically, the city says the wedding venue violates ordinance section 9.968 and “adopted, enforced, or applied any policy or requirement, or published, posted, broadcast, or distributed an advertisement, signed a notice, or signed a solicitation that discriminates or suggests.” , supported or affirmed discrimination in the provision of public accommodation.”
According to the regulation that was expanded in 2019, Violators are subject to a fine of up to $500. It also states that each day a violation occurs counts as a new violation.
Grand Rapids Office of Justice and Engagement started researching after the city received several complaints. The venue was issued a municipal civil subpoena on Sept. 30.
When News 8 went to the venue on Wednesday, co-owner Nick Natale said he wasn’t aware his venue was named. He had no further comment.
The city declined to comment further “due to the potential for future litigation in the 61st Circuit Court.”
An Instagram post from the companies about their policies on LGBTQ marriages sparked backlash and protests by the community in July.
“We believe marriage is between a man and a woman. These are our beliefs, what we grew up with and how we run our home as we run our marriage. Now that we’re opening a store, we’re going to continue doing that,” Hannah Natale, one of the owners, told News 8 in July.
Hannah Natale and her husband, Nick Natale, said they don’t host weddings for same-sex couples or transgender couples.
The Venue continue to pursue this policy despite a recent judgement the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Michigan businesses should not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
David Kallman, the venue’s attorney, said he will urge city attorneys to dismiss the case. He also said his customers are ready to fight back.
“We’re ready to go all the way to the US Supreme Court if we have to.” If … the city wants that fight, they have it,” Kallman said.
He said the city was violating its customers’ first amendment right. He also said the city is not alleging that an LGBTQ couple has been turned away.
“This is not a situation where someone is being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. This is about my clients’ right to freely practice their religious beliefs,” Kallman said. “There has been no real discrimination against any person. … my clients have made some statements about their religious beliefs and beliefs that do not discriminate against anyone. That is just a statement of their beliefs.”
He argued the city was choosing sides.
“Not only is there now protection under city ordinance for same-sex individuals or couples wishing to use my clients’ facility, but there is also a … protected category for religion,” he said. “You now have two protected categories clashing here. So it’s obvious that the city is choosing sides.”
Kallman also pointed out that the venue is willing to host other events for LGBTQ people, just not weddings.
https://www.woodtv.com/news/grand-rapids/gr-cites-wedding-venue-that-wont-serve-lgbtq-couples/ GR cites wedding venues not serving LGBTQ couples