A Mississippi wedding venue refused to rent the space to an interracial couple for their wedding, citing the owners’ “religious beliefs,” a video posted online by the groom’s sister who recorded a conversation with an employee shows.
LaKambria Welch, 24, told the online publication Deep South Voice that when she heard what happened she wanted to do something about it. So she drove to Boone’s Camp Event Hall in Booneville, Mississippi, over the Labor Day weekend to confront the owner about why her brother’s request to book the venue was denied. Welch filmed her exchange with a woman working there.
Welch’s brother, who is black, and his white fiancee were in contact with the owner of the venue but suddenly received a message that they would not be permitted to rent the space because of the venue’s “beliefs,” Welch told the outlet. The couple had already booked a date to tour the space when they received the message.
In a now-viral video shared to social media by Welch over the weekend, a woman identified as the event hall’s owner can be seen telling Welch, “First of all, we don’t do gay weddings or mixed race … because of our Christian race, I mean, our Christian belief.”
When Welch replies that her family is “Christian as well,” and asks where in the Bible race is mentioned, the woman replies, “Well, I don’t want to argue my faith.”
“Yeah, we just don’t participate,” the woman says. “We just choose not to.”
“OK, so that’s your Christian belief,” right?” Welch asks.
The woman replies, “Yes ma’am.”
Welch told ABC News that the conversation left her “shaking.”
“It really broke my heart to actually hear her say those things,” she said.
Welch said the encounter was her “first direct contact with pure racism.”
“And many people think I should be used to it because I grew up here,” she wrote. “That’s not the case.”
Welch told Deep South Voice that she believes the owner rejected her brother’s request after looking at his fiancee’s Facebook and seeing that they’re a mixed-race couple.
The event hall’s Facebook page, which was taken down after the video was posted over the weekend, was reinstated on Sunday along with a lengthy apology.
But as of Tuesday, the page was deleted once again.
A screenshot of the apology reads, “…as a child growing up in Mississippi our racial boundaries were unstated were that of staying with your own race.”
“This was never verbally spoken, but it was an understood subject,” the post stated.
According to ABC News:
The writer stated that her husband asked her to point out in the Bible where it covers “content concerning biracial relationships.”
“I studied for a minute and began to think about the history of my learning this and where it came from,” the apology read.
The writer eventually conceded that she could not find any passages to “support” her decision and that she was “incorrect.”
“I have, for many years, stood firm on my Christian faith not knowing that biracial relationships were NEVER mentioned in The Bible!” she wrote.
In response to the viral video, Katelynn Springsteen sent Deep Voice South a screenshot of her exchange with the venue on Facebook messenger in September 2018, in which she inquired whether they would be “okay” with a gay marriage ceremony.
“Thanks for checking with us, Katelynn, but due to our Christian faith we would not be able to accommodate you,” the venue replied.
“The City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status,” officials said in a statement posted to Facebook on Monday. “Furthermore, the City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen do not condone or approve these types of discriminatory policies.”