When Desiree Mark’s home state of Pennsylvania declared the gay marriage ban unconstitutional she started to look at venues in her town of Scranton. However, one venue refused to allow Mark and her fiancé celebrate at their facility.
“Unfortunately, we do not hold same-sex marriages at your facility,” Courtney Killeen, wedding and event planner at Inne at the Abingtons, wrote in an email to Mark. “I truly do hope you find somewhere that will fulfill all your wedding dreams.”
Killeen said the email she sent was due to the company’s policy, not her personal beliefs.
“I don’t agree with it,” she said.
After the email was sent, Mark’s mother mentioned it on Facebook. Mark kept her cool and never spoke about it on social media.
“I’m not the type to push my views on anyone else,” she said. “I was disappointed about what happened and wouldn’t recommend the Inne of the Abingtons. But I wouldn’t tell people to stay away, either. I have no bad feelings toward them.”
Mark was shocked to see businesses with “no gay” policies because she said she thought most people in Northeast Pennsylvania had a progressive view toward the LGBT community.
“In 2015, there will be no room for discrimination,” Ryan Alpert, director of sales and marketing for the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center which has offered to host the Mark wedding for 150 people at the symbolic price of $2,015. “We are a forward-thinking company. I was appalled, disgusted really, by how these young women were treated.”
Glenn Howery, a DJ, offered to donate his and his wife’s services to the reception.
“No one should be treated like that,” she said.
Mark said she appreciated the gestures.
“It’s awesome that business people want to stand up for their beliefs by offering their services to us, but we aren’t looking for handouts,” Mark said. “We really are thankful to everyone for their kindness.”
John Dawe, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group NEPA Rainbow Alliance, said sympathetic businesses should voice their support for LGBT anti-discrimination laws.
“While it is touching and wonderful that these businesses are supportive of this one couple, this sort of discrimination happens all the time,” Dawe said. “If a business wants to support all LGBT families they should work to make this a better place for everyone instead of taking a short-lived PR boost.”