Couple Wins Wedding Venue Dispute

BTL Staff

ST. PAUL, Minn. - After initially turning away a young same-sex couple, a Minnesota lodge has agreed to pick up the tab for the wedding and reception.

Cole Frey, 20, and Adam Block, 18, approached Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation, Inc., which operates a lodge in Little Falls that is used for weddings and receptions, to be the destination for their wedding. The couple was first told that the date for their wedding and reception was open but owners then changed their minds. After being turned away, they took the matter into their hands and approached the owners with a discrimination suit.

They settled their discrimination complaint filed with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights against the owners who agreed to pay for the wedding, reception and accommodations for attendees coming from out of town, a total of around $8,500.

The Department of Human Rights investigated and determined there was probable cause of discrimination from the lodge owner due to sexual orientation.

"This is the first public accommodation case for the department related to same-sex marriage, and it serves as a reminder that businesses may not deny services based on a person's sexual orientation just as they can't deny services on the basis of race or gender," Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said.

Even though Minnesota passed gay marriage in 2013, the legislature provides specific exemptions for religious entities from taking part in same-sex unions, but it doesn't exempt individuals, businesses and non-profits from non-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.

Attorney for the lodge owners, Paul Rogosheske, says they realized they made a mistake in refusing to accommodate the couple.

"We did everything we could to remedy it, "Rogosheske said. "We wish them the best."

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