Discrimination | El Paso | Gay Marriage | News | Texas

El Paso, Texas Wedding Venue Turns Away Gay Couple, Staff Responds: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 12.14.52 PM

A popular wedding venue in El Paso is under fire after turning away a Texas gay couple's request to hold a reception ceremony at the location. Grace Gardens reportedly told the couple that the event venue was "not allowed to have any services for same-sex marriage," KFOX14 reports:

Monico Ramirez and Jonathan Luna plan to get married in the near future, and tell KFOX14 they were looking for the perfect location to host a reception or ceremony, but not the marriage itself.

"I was looking for a place where I could have my same-sex ceremony, so I went to check out Grace Gardens," Ramirez said. "It was absolutely beautiful, and we decided we wanted to have it there."

Ramirez said he and Luna began going over contract details with a staff employee, and that's when they informed the employee that they planned to have a same-sex reception.

"She just looked at us weird," Ramirez said. "She took us to a lobby, and told us she had to go speak with a manager, we stayed there 15 minutes. She came out and said 'I'm sorry guys, but we are not allowed to have any services for same-sex marriage.'"

But Ramirez told KFOX 14 they were not trying to have a gay marriage, they simply wanted to have a ceremoy or reception at Grace Gardens. Still, he says they were told Grace Gardens can, and would refuse service to them.

"When she told me that, I felt like somebody was throwing a bucket of water on me, it was kind of sad and embarrassing," Ramirez said. "I don't think it's right to be discriminated like that."

Sandra Rodriguez, the venue's owner, responded to the controversy in a statement saying that while it's true Grace Gardens 'does not host same sex ceremonies,' the couple's claim of mistreatment is unfounded.

Says Rodriguez:

At the commencement of the tour the gentlemen informed our sales associate that they were looking for a place to host a wedding ceremony, and they affirmatively stated that the female bride was out of town. It wasn't until the tour was almost completed that the gentlemen inquired as to whether Grace Gardens allowed 'wild parties with strippers.' It was this question that garnered the 'weird' look described by Mr. Ramirez. After responding that she would have to ask management for the answer, the gentlemen revealed that they were actually a same sex couple seeking to have their ceremony and wild party with strippers at Grace Gardens.

Watch a news report of the story here

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  1. Sadly, Texas is one of the 32 states that still allows businesses to discriminate for goods/services and housing. Unlike some of the states we've seen where it is against state law to deny gays and lesbians service, Texas is not one of them. Rude, ugly and embarrassing, ....but not illegal.

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | Aug 9, 2013 2:16:11 PM

  2. There's one way to find out who is telling the truth. Ask the owner of the business if she would ever let her venue be used for a same-sex ceremony. Maybe one of the "journalists" who write for Towleroad can do that?

    Posted by: Truth | Aug 9, 2013 2:23:14 PM

  3. While Texas has no laws banning discrimination against GLBT's there is some protection in El Paso. I haven't found the data on what protections are in place LGBT's to prevent general discrimination for the City of El Paso. HRC gave the city 6/18 points for discrimination protection broken into 3 points for sexual orientation and 3 for Gender Identity in each of 3 categories; employment, housing and public accommodation for the 18 points. So again, as I said yesterday in the article about the Iowans, does the facility have to allow it by business license codes? Texans join in on the commentary.

    Posted by: steven | Aug 9, 2013 2:26:33 PM

  4. somebody's lying, and no one is asking follow up questions to the venue's statement, like:

    1) were you planning on having strippers at your receiption?

    2) did you tell the venue up front this was for a heterosexual couple?

    if the answer to either question is "yes", the venue had a policy in place prior to the couple's visit, and it's not against the law, then this story isn't about discrimination. it's about a reporter trying to get his story or agenda on air by misrepresentation.

    the venue might be bigoted, but it sounds like it's legally bigoted, and treated the couple with respect.

    Posted by: northalabama | Aug 9, 2013 2:39:31 PM

  5. The manager's story sounds fishy. I've not been to a SSM ceremony or reception, but it seems out of place that they would ask if they hosted "wild parties with strippers". Really? Sounds more like their idea of what gay people are really like... party animals.

    Posted by: John P. | Aug 9, 2013 2:40:45 PM

  6. We need to start suing these people. It's time to send a strong message that just because you "believe" something that doesn't mean you get to run your business on it.

    Posted by: Tigerama | Aug 9, 2013 2:45:46 PM

  7. Obviously this is not the "perfect place" to host their event. Perhaps they can keep looking.

    Posted by: anon | Aug 9, 2013 3:08:16 PM

  8. Give me a break. They admit to not allowing sam-sex events there but just had to throw "BUT THEY WANTED STRIPPERS!!!" so everyone can understand why they refuse services to homosexuals.

    Give it up because we all know us gay men always have strippers at our weddings.

    Posted by: Mark | Aug 9, 2013 3:13:04 PM

  9. @Tigerama - in an ideal world we wouldn't need such protections. But Texas has not seen fit to grant us the most minor concession of protections in anti-discriminatory laws; therefore businesses can discriminate against us with impunity. However as I noted above, I don't know what the status is in El Paso, as HRC reports some protections in place and secondly is the company actually doing business in the city limits or nearby and merely described as in El Paso.
    Also I'm concerned about the report of possible strippers. Who is really saying that? Just the venue or was that a real request by the guys? I did check on the website and they do several types of things not just weddings and is advertised as outdoor facilities with tenting available. Privacy could definitely be a concern; but I smell a rat about the stripper comments. Probably a staffer saying 'who knows what they'll want.....maybe even strippers' and somebody ran with it. More needs to be investigated on this.....before anyone is pilloried, as much as I want to say burn the place down........ (visions of Frankenstein's monster).

    Posted by: steven | Aug 9, 2013 3:17:39 PM

  10. I would rather wade in a pool of thrice regurgitated vomit than step foot in that miserable bigoted place.

    Posted by: David | Aug 9, 2013 3:36:11 PM

  11. Agreed that a lot of the facts are missing because it's all he said, he said, they said, right now and no one is asking the follow up questions.

    Regardless of discrimination laws, if that stripper comment is true, it's not illegal to discriminate against trashiness. I'm sure I wouldn't want to have my wedding at a venue that DOES allow "wild strippers". LOL.

    Also, the guys' story doesn't make sense either. How can you look for a venue to hold a ceremony or reception but not the marriage itself...?

    Posted by: G | Aug 9, 2013 3:54:03 PM

  12. Oh C'mon for God's sake.

    Strippers? Wild party? FOR YOUR WEDDING????

    This is why people think Texas is full of morons. Good luck with that relationship boys.

    Posted by: jtramon | Aug 9, 2013 4:11:27 PM

  13. Yeah I've been to El Paso. Would not believe the assholes running the venue.

    Posted by: Mmike1969 | Aug 9, 2013 4:59:45 PM

  14. Jeez, at our reception we are having a slider bar and and a blues band....I don't know any strippers....sigh.....

    Posted by: Seth | Aug 9, 2013 5:29:00 PM

  15. Media hos looking to make a story and get some money.....

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Aug 9, 2013 5:46:48 PM

  16. What kind of man hates strippers?

    Posted by: Kev C | Aug 9, 2013 5:59:07 PM

  17. The people at Grace Gardens win the PANTS ON FIRE AWARD.

    Posted by: louis | Aug 9, 2013 7:33:01 PM

  18. Sounds like the venue is lying. Typical catholic/Christian move to lie. IT'S ALL RELIGIOUS PEOPLE DO.

    Posted by: Willie | Aug 10, 2013 1:28:15 AM

  19. Sounds like the venue is lying. Typical catholic/Christian move to lie. IT'S ALL RELIGIOUS PEOPLE DO.

    Posted by: Willie | Aug 10, 2013 1:28:47 AM

  20. I've had a horrible run in with the staff at this venue here for my cousins wedding about a year ago. They were rude as hell and constantly made unprofessional inappropriate comments. We left a negative review right after the ceremony online. I wouldn't trust them, especially known for their homophobia.

    Posted by: Skyler | Aug 10, 2013 1:30:19 AM

  21. LOL I love when you catch religious people in the act of telling a lie. So they casually mention that they don't allow any same sex ceremonies, but make up all kinds of elaborate stories about parties, and strippers, and poppers too? Oh my! just to make the gay couple sound like the pervs they think they are, and make their bigoted venue come off as the victim. I've dealt with this kind of religious fabrication. They have no shame.

    Good for the couple for going public.

    Posted by: Scott Johansen | Aug 10, 2013 1:32:11 AM

  22. So incredibly proud of these two men for not backing down or letting their reputation be tarnished by a company that was caught discriminating. It's easy to back down and feel shamed. It takes convictions to stand with your strength and fight prejudice.

    Posted by: Two Dads | Aug 10, 2013 1:33:12 AM

  23. EVERYTHING about that quote from the el paso venue came off slimy, fake, pretentious, and calculated. It's like they went to a 1980s handbook on anti gay stereotypes to play up. Congrats guys on your beautiful relationship andsurviving it in Texas.

    Posted by: Duration & Convexity | Aug 10, 2013 1:34:21 AM

  24. Similar story happened to my husband and I wanting to rent a venue for his birthday party. They rejected us and in person told us because they are a "family friendly" venue, as if we were suggesting to stage anything that wasn't. When friends flooded the venue with calls requesting why, they made up false, vile claims that we wanted strippers and an adult themed party. Them playing horrific anti gay stereotypes painting us as pervs, which I'm positive is what this little shop from hell was trying to paint these men as. Go on their yelp page and bombard them sharing this story for future guests.

    Posted by: J. Klien | Aug 10, 2013 1:38:05 AM

  25. She lost me at "we don't do same sex receptions" the guys instantly get the benefit of the doubt and the bull about them revealing they wanted strippers to a wedding venue in Texas knowing they are already under scrutiny? Don't these 'people of faith' even have shame in their scheming anymore?

    Posted by: Lipstick Diva | Aug 10, 2013 1:39:28 AM

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