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PA Wedding Venue Facing Backlash for 'Marriage Is Between a Man and a Woman' Policy

04-15-2019
Wedding Rings Bible

Another Christian business owner is under fire for refusing to go against their religious beliefs in order to serve LGBTQ customers. 

The Star Barn, a wedding venue located in central Pennsylvania, is enduring intense backlash on social media for the owner's refusal to back down from their Christian beliefs about marriage.

A retired educator, who's also a homosexual, learned of the Star Barn's policy and posted his objections to the policy on Facebook, calling it discrimination, according to the website PennLive.

Star Barn's owner David Abel explained to the website in an interview that his faith plays a critical role not only in his personal life but his business operations.

He told PennLive he does not tolerate discrimination against anyone, not in his business or in a public setting. He said he does not discriminate in his hiring practices nor his workplace. Abel has been in business for 43 years and owns several business ventures.

"No persons will be discriminated against; however, we ask people to respect that we have core tenants in our faith and our beliefs and we cannot participate in any event that would be in contradiction to those core tenants - one of them being marriage, which has been biblically based for thousands of years as being between a man and a woman," he said.

Pennsylvania does not extend anti-discrimination laws to members of the LGBTQ community, according to PennLive

Under federal law, conservatives argue that the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom should include the right to follow one's religious beliefs in any area of life, including the marketplace. But the legal waters are still very muddied. 

In the 2018 Colorado bakery case, the US Supreme Court re-affirmed the protections guaranteed under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act in which Jack Phillips pointed out his own religious objection to bake a cake for a gay couple's wedding. The court ruled in his favor and blasted the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for showing hostility towards Phillips' faith. 

However, the high court did not address the key issue of whether business owners can claim religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws used in some states and cities. 

Last month, the high court refused to hear an appeal from a Christian bed and breakfast owner in Hawaii who was ordered by a lower court to serve a lesbian couple despite it being a violation of her religious beliefs. 

The court rejected the appeal, thus upholding the lower court's ruling in favor of the lesbian couple. Now, litigation will continue to determine what penalty the Christian business owner must face. 

Phyllis Young, the owner of Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Honolulu, Hawaii, refused to rent a room in her home to Diane Cervili and Taeko Bufford in 2007 due to her religious beliefs about marriage. Cervili and Bufford sued Young over her actions and accused her of discriminating against them because of their sexuality.

A state court found Young in violation of Hawaii's Civil Rights Commissions' public accommodation law. The law applies to hospitality, entertainment, and transportation services. The law makes it "illegal to deny a person access to or to treat them unequally in a place of public accommodation" because of a person's "religion," "sexual orientation," and "gender identity or expression."

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