Mike Gill and his fiancé Coty Heaton thought they found the perfect wedding venue at Barn in the Bend. But the owner didn’t quite see things the same way the gay couple did. It turns out she doesn’t allow same-sex weddings.
Jackie Daniel, the owner of the popular wedding venue, told the couple that Barn in the Bend do not allow gay weddings. Daniel went on to send a series of confusing emails while she tried to figure out what she wanted to say.
At the bottom of the first email she wrote **We offer same-sex marriage ceremonies only. The owner quickly realized her mistake and sent another email to the couple where she said ** We do not offer same-sex marriage ceremonies.
While people have flooded the Internet with bad reviews of the wedding venue, Gill and Heaton just want the world to know their experience. They originally posted the emails because the couple wanted other gay couples to know that they’re not welcome at Barn in the Bend. The same-sex couple feel Daniel is “bigoted” but she says the decision stems from her religious beliefs.
In her last email to the couple, Daniel said it’s her right to refuse, and it’s within their right to leave a bad review.
Mike Gill posted on Facebook after their experience with Barn in the Bend went viral and said “We want to reiterate that the intent behind yesterday’s post wasn’t to get the business to change their mind, the point was to make people in our community aware of their business practices and make an informed decision. While the fallout from this has been unexpected, it turns out a lot of people don’t like those practices and wanted to voice that.”
The couple is trying to move on from the experience with Jackie Daniel and is looking for a more inclusive wedding venue.
Barn in the Bend has since gone dark on social media. It made its website private after a series of phone calls and bad reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor. While the Facebook was deactivated that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from criticizing the venue.
Many wedding referral websites have said that they will not be promoting Barn in the Bend anymore because of their discriminatory policies. They have removed the venue from their online directories and some resource websites have restricted the venue’s access to their services.
Jackie Daniel has yet to comment on the story. Before shutting down the venue’s social media accounts, she did leave the following response on many of the negative reviews.
Daniels said: “Yes due to my religious beliefs that is my choice. I wish the best for all the LGBT communities however with all the choices out there there will always be a place for same-sex marriages. Choices are made every day for all types of reasons and my religious beliefs will not in good conscious let me choose to host same-sex marriages.”
Tennessee and the city of Nashville currently have no laws in place that protect LGBTQ+ individuals from public discrimination, so Daniels is within her right to deny the couple her venue for their wedding.