N.Y.C & Ore. Venues Refuse Same-Sex Wedding Events
A gay couple from New York and a lesbian couple from Oregon are finding themselves in similar situations this week after two different venues canceled their wedding ceremony arrangements due to their sexual orientation.
Newlyweds Barrett Greene and Thomas Eng of New York filed a lawsuit against a restaurateur in Greenwich Village after the owner allegedly canceled the couple’s wedding party because "gay and feng shui do not go together," according to the lawsuit.
New York Daily News reports that Greene, a 50-year-old plumbing contractor from upstate New York, and Eng, a 38-year-old computer professional in Manhattan, wanted to have their rehearsal dinner at Amber Village and have their wedding catered by the Asian fusion restaurant.
Greene says he met with manager Tommy Ho and he charged his credit card with $750 for a deposit. But a week later, Ho told the men that the event might need to be moved to Amber, a sister restaurant, which happens to be right around the corner of Stonewall Bar -- the birthplace of the gay pride movement.
The lawsuit states on the same day, Amber Village’s senior manager, only known as Fong, got upset with Ho for allowing the men to hold their party at the restaurant.
"Fong was visibly angry and told Ho that he didn’t want any ’gay parties’ at Amber Village," the suit reads. "Fong instructed Ho to ’make an excuse’ and tell Greene that his rehearsal dinner could not take place at Amber Village and that his wedding could not be catered by them either. Fong also told Ho that it’s ’very bad’ for Amber Village to book ’gay parties’ and that big groups of ’gay partyers’ are especially bad for feng shui."
Fong then fired Ho, the suit notes.
"Feng shui has to do with luck and fortune. It has to do with where do you put your plants and flowers, your furniture. It has nothing to do with who are your clients," Bo Lee, the manager of a different Amber Village restaurant, said. He also told the Daily News that the doesn’t believe that the company would discriminate against a same-sex couple.
"This is the West Village. We don’t turn away anyone," Lee said. "We have gay managers."
The couple had met on a cruise in 2004 and tied the knot in June. The two men have not specified the amount their suing for but say they never got their deposit money back. In June, Amber Village closed its doors.
The Daily News also reported of a similar incident involving a lesbian couple from Eugene, Ore.
Amy Lynn and Emily Thomas claim their dream venue, where they planned to exchange wedding vows, rejected them once the owner discovered the event would be a for a same-sex couple.
Thomas, who has been with Lynn since college, described a follow-up phone conversation they had after they met with the venue owner, who was apparently excited to host the event.
"I’m not sure she knew quite what I meant, so I said, well we would be two brides," she told Seattle’s KOMO-TV. The owner did not say anything in response.
"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. "It was really jarring for me because I was only asking just to be sure," Thomas told KOMO-TV.
Washington state’s ALCU legal director Sarah Dunne told the news station that venues cannot discriminate against same-sex couples and compared the incident to venues rejecting to serve people because of their race in the 1950s and ’60s.
"You cannot deny service to someone based on their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation," she said.
Washington State has anti-discrimination laws that protect individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.