Same sex couple: Miami County venue refused to hold wedding ceremony

MIAMI COUNTY — A Piqua couple says the owner of a wedding venue denied them service, because of a venue policy against hosting same sex marriage ceremonies.

Reagan Bowen and Deandra Fair said they inquired about holding an August ceremony at the Miami County venue Light on the Hill, in Casstown.

Bowen shared what she said was a screenshot of a message from the venue’s owner, which read, “I am sorry Reagan, because of our Christian beliefs we do not believe in same sex marriages at the venue. I wanted to respond back to you and be upfront with you.”

WHIO contacted the venue Monday. The owner declined comment but confirmed its policy against holding wedding ceremonies for same sex couples.

“It was just so disheartening and humiliating, to be honest,” Bowen said in an interview Monday evening with News Center 7′s Sean Cudahy. “I guess I didn’t realize how the world could be anymore.”

Is the venue’s policy legal?

It’s a question WHIO took to Cedarville University legal expert Marc Clauson, who said U.S. Supreme Court rulings have left the issue still a bit unclear.

“It’s just hard to say at this point,” Clauson said.

He pointed to a 2018 high court ruling involving a Colorado baker who denied service to a same sex couple. The justices set aside a Colorado court ruling against the baker, and said the state showed “anti-religion bias” against the baker. However, the ruling did not address the larger question of whether businesses can deny service to same sex couples – a question likely to be in front of the high court in the future.

“The court is going to have to decide whether the cake baker or anybody who has a venue like that has the right to refuse service on, number one, free speech, and on the issue of religious liberty,” Clauson said.

Meanwhile, a court battle is not what Bowen or her fiancé, Deandra Fair, are looking for.

“We don’t feel that we’re owed anything,” Bowen said.

But, she made clear, she disagrees with the wedding venue’s policy, citing her own religious beliefs.

“I know that God loves me and I know that God created everybody,” she said. “So I know (this decision) was disheartening for him as well.”