Country music entertainer and theme-park entrepreneur Dolly Parton has issued a public apology to a lesbian couple who claimed they were discriminated against recently when an employee at the Tennessee theme park “Dollywood” told one of the women that her “Marriage is so Gay” t-shirt was offensive to other visitors.
Olivier Odom and Jennifer Tipton, who married last year, said they were “in disbelief” when a gate host denied Odom admittance to the park until she changed her shirt.
Now Parton has released a statement to ABC News apologizing for the incident.
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“I am truly sorry for the hurt or embarrassment regarding the gay and lesbian t-shirt incident at Dollywood’s Splash Country recently. Everyone knows of my personal support of the gay and lesbian community. Dollywood is a family park and all families are welcome.”
Dolly adds that the policies on clothing or signs with profanity or controversial messages are in place to protect the person wearing the shirt and keep disturbances at the park to a minimum.
Dolly concludes saying, “I am looking further into the incident and hope and believe it was more policy than insensitivity. I am very sorry it happened at all.”
Following the incident, Odom sent a letter last month to Dollywood officials, asking them to “implement policies that are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people; conduct staff sensitivity training; and issue a public statement indicating that the park is inclusive of all families.”
The theme park, located in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., is owned by Parton and the Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation.