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Texas wedding venue places ad telling same-sex couples they’re not welcome

Texas wedding venue places ad telling same-sex couples they’re not welcome
Bob and Genie Flournoy Photo: Texas Forest Country Weddings
Bob and Genie Flournoy of East Texas are the toast of right wing religious zealots across America for advertising in their local Christian magazine their refusal to book weddings for same-sex or transgender couples. “Our Christian faith demands that we not participate in same-sex, transgender or any other perversion of marriage,” the ad says. “If you disagree with our stance on marriage, please respect our Christian belief and have your wedding elsewhere.” Mr. Flournoy is the owner of Texas Forest Country Weddings, a bed and breakfast venue in Manning, Texas, that features a mansion, a lodge, acres upon acres of beautiful land, and the online equivalent of a big “You’re Not Welcome” sign to LGBTQ couples. Flournoy posted on his website that the property handed down from his father “gives us a ministry to provide rest, relaxation and renewal to weary folks and a great place for a man and a woman to begin a wonderful life together. “I love Manning and you will too. I am anxious to share it with all who will come and experience this place that I call home.” “All who will come,” however, does not include gays or trans people who want to wed there. Flournoy cited the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision on marriage in a recent post about his decision.
“The recent and ungodly Obergefeld decision out of the Supreme Court permits other than one man and one woman to marry. This, in my opinion, is the single most destructive decision of good order in America that has ever been rendered. It adversely affects all of society and elevates man as supreme ruler of the universe. It is contrary to the explicit admonitions of God and as a result we can no longer expect the blessings of God upon this Nation.”
“We don’t turn away gays at the property, we just don’t host same-sex marriage ceremonies,” said a spokesperson for the venue in response to questions from LGBTQ Nation. When pressed to clarify why transgender Americans who are straight and engaged to marry heterosexuals would be excluded from booking a wedding at Texas Forest, the unnamed spokesperson responded, “We book traditional heterosexual weddings. Pretty simple.”

The impetus for the ad, according to Flournoy’s post on his website, was a same-sex couple asking to book the venue:

“A gay couple has asked to have their wedding there and we have refused. It is my home and my strongly held Christian belief requires us to say no. We cannot participate in an act that we feel is so wrong individually and as a Nation. To do otherwise will defile my home and the honor of my word and God’s word.

“The gay community is suing bakers, photographers, venue owners and anybody that refuses to assist them in their alternative life style. I know they intend to come after me but I refuse to be intimidated by their threats. They can hang me from the tallest tree but I will not give in. Either the Bill of Rights gives me religious liberty or the government takes it away. I am willing to lose everything or die trying to prove that we still have this right to the free exercise of religion and speech.

“We are not breaking any laws,” said the spokesperson, “for the record.” That’s true, given that Texas is one of 28 states that do not cover gays and lesbians in their statewide nondiscrimination laws. Even though Texas conceded the legality of the marriage ruling and the subsequent unconstitutionality of its same-sex marriage ban, State attorney general Ken Paxton proclaimed that despite the Supreme Court’s “lawless” ruling, “Texans’ fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected.”

Religious liberties don’t outweigh civil liberties in every state. Earlier this year, a New York State appeals court upheld a $13,000 fine against an upstate New York couple, Robert and Cynthia Gifford. Citing their religious beliefs, they refused to host the wedding of two lesbians at their venue. The ruling said, the state “does not compel the Giffords to endorse, espouse, or promote same-sex marriages, nor does it require them to recite or display any message at all.”

Their response was to stop hosting wedding ceremonies altogether. They still host wedding receptions, which they market to “bridal couples.”

“The family is under assault and being destroyed, and this is one more nail in the coffin, and that’s why I have been up front about what I believe,’ Flournoy told KTRE-TV. “I’m tired of everything having to be politically correct and I’m just going to say what I believe and if someone doesn’t agree with that, please go somewhere else.”

But that’s not an option for most couples outside the big cities, as Waylon Jordan and Billy Mead of Northeast Texas found out when they hunted for a wedding venue and found discrimination at every turn. Only Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano have ordinances protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and there’s no chance that the current state or federal government will enact equality legislation any time soon.

Even justices of the peace in the Texas county where Jordan and Mead live have all stopped performing weddings, rather than perform same-sex weddings, according to the Dallas Voice.

For his part, Flournoy felt a message needed to be sent to “liberals” and all LGBTQ Texans, to “put the gay community on notice that they will have to get married somewhere else. They are not going to force me to violate my conscience and long held Christian beliefs.

“I need you to stand with me and all those Christian business people that have and will face the same assault,” he wrote, imploring fellow Christians support others who refuse to serve gays, lesbians, and transgender Americans. “Find out who they are and buy their products and services. That is what Christians did for Chick-fil-a when they stood their ground. A line has been drawn in the sand and we must each decide which side we will choose.”

Watch the report from KTRE-TV here.

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