Family & Relationships A North Carolina wedding venue refused to host a same-sex couple's wedding
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- McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards, a same-sex couple, said a venue refused to host their wedding.
- The Highgrove Estate in North Carolina told the couple they don't participate in same-sex weddings.
- The venue owner said they turned Henderson and Edwards away because of religious beliefs.
A same-sex couple says a North Carolina wedding venue refused to host their wedding because they're gay.
McCae Henderson, 25, and Ike Edwards, 31, met online three years ago. Henderson is a lawyer, while Edwards is a dentist. The couple got engaged on Valentine's Day of 2021 after Edwards proposed at Henderson's childhood home.
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As they started looking for wedding venues, a friend recommended Highgrove Estate, which is in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.
Edwards reached out to the venue to get more information about it, and on the website, it asked for the bride and groom's names. He added a note to the request explaining that there would be two grooms.
The couple said they received an email from Highgrove Estate three days later that said the venue chooses "not to participate in same-sex weddings."
The venue wouldn't host the wedding because Edwards and Henderson are a same-sex couple
, the owner of Highgrove Estate said they turned Henderson and Edwards away because of religious beliefs. Highgrove Estate did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
A North Carolina wedding venue refused to host a same-sex couple's wedding
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"Highgrove has always welcomed vendors, guests, and employees of all orientations and we do not discriminate against a people or group," the venue said in its statement to ABC11. "We believe in the sanctity of marriage as God says in the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman and we choose to honor Him above what the world decides what marriage should be."
"It was just a shock," Henderson told Insider. "We're both from the Raleigh area, and it's a progressive metropolitan area, so we've never dealt with anything like this."
"And we definitely acknowledge that that is not the norm," he added. "We are privileged to not have had to deal with this in the past."
"Reactions from friends and family really made us want to kind of spread the word and say, 'No, it's not OK, and we don't have to accept this,'" Henderson said.
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The couple decided to share their experience on social media, and the story got picked up by local news outlets. People have rallied around the couple since they shared their story.
"The amount of support has been incredible," Henderson told Insider. "We are super, super grateful."
The couple said a few people have even reached out to tell them that they had similar experiences with Highgrove Estate. Henderson said one couple told him that the venue wouldn't host their wedding because they're Jewish.
Highgrove Estate made its Instagram private and deleted its Facebook account in the days after Henderson and Edwards went public with their story.
"We've had a bunch of people reach out saying that they're canceling their weddings with that venue," Henderson told Insider. "But it was never our intention by releasing this information to shut them down."
They just wanted to make other same-sex couples aware of Highgrove's policy.
Edwards and Henderson are not the only same-sex couple who have faced discrimination while searching for a wedding venue
In December of 2020, another North Carolina wedding venue, The Warehouse, told Brianna May and Kasey Mayfield it wouldn't host their wedding because they were gay, as.
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As a lawyer, Henderson feels strongly that there needs to be more protection for LGBTQ Americans under the law.
"There are," Henderson said. "I do think that the major issues are going to be in these states where there aren't protections."
"The difference that a lot of people like to draw, which is inaccurate, is that we shouldn't force our chosen lifestyle on people," he added. "This is not a choice. It's just like any other protected class that is protected in the constitution of the United States."
"There are protections because people don't choose to be a member of that protected class they are," he said. "They shouldn't be discriminated against based on something they have no control over."
Since they went public with their story, Henderson and Edward have picked a different wedding venue and set a date for April 2022.
"If you do get a response like the one that we received, just know that that is not how everyone feels," Henderson advised other LGBTQ couples. "There are people that love you and support you and want to see your love and celebrate your marriage."
"Don't let it ruin your day, your wedding day, or your joy," he added. "Just keep moving and hope for change within the law."
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