McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards.

The special events facility Highgrove Estate in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina has cited their “Christian beliefs” as justifiable reason for refusing gay couple McCae Henderson and Ike Edwards the opportunity to utilize the site for their upcoming wedding. 

Having served the area’s community for almost twenty years, Highgrove’s reputation boasts beautiful ambience, polished decor and a perfect setting for picturesque ceremonies. These qualities are what drew newly engaged couple Henderson and Edwards to the company website. 

After emailing the venue, the pair was stunned to receive the following message:

“[O]ur owner has unfortunately chosen not to participate in same-sex weddings at this time. However, she wants to ensure that you still have the best wedding day experience possible, and has given me a list of several other wonderful venues in the area that may interest you.”

Should LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws be put into place in North Carolina, this kind of action would be illegal. As the current legislation stands, Highgrove may refuse service to any unprotected members of the LGBTQ community. 

Although there are several positive reviews of the venue, the negative few are scathing and angry. A previous client posted online, “Vicky STILL refused to give me my money back, so we went to court.” Others mentioned unprofessionalism and unwillingness to accommodate guests’ needs. In response to the uproar from allies and the LGBTQ community, Highgrove Estate posted the following on their Instagram page: 

“Highgrove Estate desires that all people’s weddings be the most joyful in their lives. Highgrove also respects people’s differences regarding marriage. For this reason, we will always be kind and caring when these differences arise…although Highgrove…cannot deliver what is being requested as the company holds strong to its Christian beliefs.”

These words did not placate fiancés Edwards and Henderson who said, “I don’t think you get to be homophobic because your religion tells you to be homophobic.” 

This is not the first time North Carolina wedding venues have made headlines for refusing to host same-sex ceremonies. In 2020, a lesbian couple was turned away from a Winston-Salem venue on the basis of their sexual orientation.

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