Crystal Bergen and Jessica Brockman started making plans for their wedding immediately following the United States Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling affirming marriage equality across the land. The Springfield, Mo. residents had done their research and identified the idyllic venue – or so they thought.
The Ridge Haven Chalet located on 75 acres in Hawk Point, Mo. was 3 hours and 45 minutes away but a central commute for both of their families. Brockman called the venue to make sure it would be an option for their June 2016 ceremony.
“The owner and officiant was out of town and I talked to her daughter-in-law,” Brockman recalled. “She was really nice but she had absolutely no idea if [holding a same-sex wedding] would be okay or not. She had said that was something they’d never talked about before — something they’d never come across — so she told me to call back when the owner was back.”
Brockman called back a few days later, spoke to the owner, and again popped the question: Would you be willing to host a same-sex wedding?
“She kind of paused for a minute and then said ‘no, I wouldn’t allow that,'” said Brockman. “So I asked her to clarify would you not officiate or would you not allow us to get married there period. She said ‘no, I wouldn’t allow it at all.'”
Ridge Haven Chalet declined to comment for this article.
“We were really bummed out about it because it was really the perfect place,” said Brockman. “It was beautiful, it was a good distance for both of our families, and budget-wise, they are great. We were really super discouraged by that and now we’re back to square one.”
Missouri is one of 28 states where it is still legal to discriminate against LGBT individuals in housing, employment and public accommodation.
The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act or MONA has been introduced in both chambers of the legislature since 1998 and would add LGBT protections to Missouri’s Human Rights Statute.
“While we have come a long way to secure marriage equality, inclusive nondiscrimination protections are more vital than ever,” said Stephanie Perkins, Deputy Director of PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “Regardless of how an individual or business owner may feel about same-sex couples, we should all be able to agree that everyone deserves the same level of respect. Businesses should never be allowed to deny services simply because the customer is gay or transgender.”