Grand Rapids Slaps Wedding Venue With Civil Infraction For Not Wanting To Host Gay Weddings

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Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, issued a civil infraction Monday against a wedding venue whose owners are reportedly refusing to host same-sex and transgender couples.

The infraction filed by the city claims that the venue, Broadway Avenue, is violating Grand Rapids’ 2019 human rights ordinance, according to MLIVE. An attorney for the venue is claiming that the city is violating his client’s protected freedoms under the First Amendment and that the team is willing to fight the infraction all the way to Michigan’s Supreme Court.

“We’re going to vigorously oppose this,” attorney David Kallman said Wednesday, according to the outlet. “They’re totally unspecific here of what it is they’re claiming my client did, but the bottom line is we’re going to oppose any claim we committed any wrong here. Obviously, based on their First Amendment rights, that trumps any ordinance (claiming) discrimination here.”

Grand Rapids’ human right ordinance bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The city started investigating the venue’s alleged infraction of the ordinance after it received a number of complaints regarding Broadway Avenue’s policy on hosting LGBTQ weddings, MLIVE continued.

“After receiving multiple complaints from the community, a multidisciplinary team of city staff conducted an investigation as outlined in the Grand Rapids Human Rights Ordinance,” Grand Rapids officials wrote in a statement shared by MLIVE. “After a thorough investigation into the actions of The Broadway Avenue LLC, the city of Grand Rapids concluded that The Broadway Avenue LLC violated the City’s Human Rights Ordinance.” (RELATED: ‘They Can Vote Yes And Move On’: Pete Buttigieg Attacks Republicans Voting Against Gay Marriage)

Kallman admitted that the venue owners have previously made statements regarding their unwillingness to host LGBTQ wedding ceremonies, but they have not denied any customers at the time of writing, MLIVE noted. Kallman said there are First Amendment protections ensuring his clients can freely exercise their religious beliefs.

The owners told MiBiz in July that some couples have disagreed with the venue’s policy after booking their ceremonies. They will not be issuing refunds, according to the outlet.