A Tennessee wedding venue that made headlines this week, after it was revealed its officials would not host a commitment ceremony for two gay Iraq War veterans, will change its policy on holding same-sex ceremonies, LGBTQ Nation reports.
The owner of Mint Springs Farm in Nolensville, Tenn., initially told couple Anthony Willfert and Brain Blas, who first started dating nine years ago when they met while serving with Fort Campbell, that the venue could not host their committeemen ceremony because gay marriage is not legal in Tennessee.
"It’s pretty disheartening. I would’ve thought in 2014 that we’re a lot more ahead of our time than we are," Willfert told Nashville, Tenn., NBC-affiliate station WSMV.
After the couple took a recent tour of the Mint Springs Farm, the men say an employee told them there would not be a problem with hosting a same-sex ceremony. They later received an email by the venue’s owner, who reportedly said:
"Unfortunately, until same sex marriage is legal in the state of Tennessee [sic], we cannot participate in this ceremony at our venue. I wish we could help, I truly do, but our hands are tied in this situation."
The owner also sent a statement to WSMV and said:
We are deeply sorry that a staff member of ours was unaware of our policy and truly understand the disappointment of this couple. Our employee was simply trying to be helpful to this couple who visited our venue after hours.
We only do weddings at our facility. When we went into this endeavor, we knew that due to the nature of our business, this situation would arise. However, Tennessee law currently states that same-sex marriage is prohibited by the Tennessee State Constitution. Because we only host weddings, we cannot violate Tennessee law.
This decision does not in any way reflect or convey any personal feelings on this matter.
We wish this couple the very best.
But now, as LGBTQ Nation reports, officials from the LGBT group Tennessee Equality Project spoke with Mint Springs Farm and announced Tuesday in a Facebook post that the venue will be changing its policy with regards to holding same-sex ceremonies.
In a statement released through the Tennessee Equality Project, Mint Springs Farm Said:
As owners of Mint Springs farm we have had time to regroup and reflect. We have reached out to the community and started a dialogue with Tennessee Equality Project. The Executive Director, Chris Sanders was able to meet with us. In order to move forward we have decided to change our policy.
We will offer commitment ceremonies for any future couples that have a legal license from other states or countries. We also want to broaden this offer to include couples who simply want a commitment ceremony with no intention of obtaining legal marriage license. This will be our policy moving forward, it will remain true to all future prospective clients.
Willfert and Blas have yet to say if they will hold their commitment ceremony at the venue.