Gay couple says wedding venue discriminated against them

Gay couple says wedding venue discriminated against them
SEATTLE -- An Oregon couple says they were told their wedding wouldn't be "a good fit" for a local venue because the couple is gay.

The owner of the venue refused to comment on the issue, but the couple says everyone was fine with their wedding plans until they said they were lesbians.

Amy Lynn and Emily Thomas saw a local wedding venue and knew it was the place they wanted to get married. Speaking online from their Eugene, Ore., home, the college sweethearts say there were blown away by the beauty of the venue.

"It feels like you're one step away from the water," Lynn said.

When the couple returned home last week, they reached out by phone to finalize the plans. They say at first the venue was happy to have them. All that changed during a conversation with the owner of the venue.

"It was really jarring for me because I was only asking just to be sure," Thomas said of the conversation.

Thomas said the owner was talking a lot about brides and grooms. When she mentioned that there would be two brides, she said the owner paused.

"She sort of dwelled on it a little bit and then eventually she said, 'You know, I actually don't think that would be a good fit,'" Thomas said.

The ACLU's legal director, Sarah Dunne, said businesses can't pick and choose who they serve.

"When they're open to the public, they need to serve the public," she said.

By law, companies can't discriminate if services and products are open to the public, even if the business is private.

Dunne said wedding venues aren't any different.

"You cannot deny service to someone based on their gender, race, religion or their sexual orientation," she said.

If the same-sex marriage law passes, more couples may face similar problems if business owners try to get around the law.

Dunne said ignorance isn't an excuse.

"When you look back in the 50s, 60s and people being denied service based on their race, this is no different," she said.

According to the ACLU, Referendum-74 -- the same-sex marriage law -- has no bearing on this incident. The law would only allow clergy to opt out of performing marriages for religious reasons.