Boone’s Camp Event Hall has been accused of canceling a couple’s wedding plans after discovering the couple was interracial, according to Deep South Voice.
The owners of Boone’s Camp Event Hall, located at 101 E Church Street in Booneville, Mississippi, were reportedly making plans with the couple online before abruptly turning them away due to “Christian beliefs.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Groom’s Sister Drove to the Venue For Clarification
When LaKambria Welch heard that Boone’s Camp refused to allow her brother and his fiancée to get married there, she drove to the venue herself, according to Deep South Voice.
According to her Facebook page, LaKambria is from Booneville and currently lives in Starkville, Mississippi. When she arrived at Boone’s Camp, LaKambria filmed an encounter she had with a woman who works there.
“First of all, we don’t do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race—I mean, our Christian belief,” the woman tells Welch in the video.
“Okay, we’re Christians as well,” Welch says.
“Yes ma’am,” the woman replies.
“So, what in the Bible tells you that—?” Welch begins to ask.
“Well, I don’t want to argue my faith,” the woman interrupts.
“No, that’s fine,” Welch replies.
“We just don’t participate,” the woman says.
“Okay,” Welch responds.
“We just choose not to,” the woman continues.
“Okay. So that’s your Christian belief, right?” Welch asks.
“Yes ma’am,” the woman says.
2. Welch Believes the Boone’s Camp Event Hall Owners Found Her Brother and His Fiancée on Facebook
Welch told Deep South Voice that she believes the venue searched for her brother and his fiancée on Facebook. Upon finding their photos, she says the owners decided not to allow the wedding to take place at Boone’s Camp.
According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website, Donna and David Russell are the owners and managers of Boone’s Camp Event Hall, LLC.
“The owner took a look at my brother’s fiancée’s page and wrote her back to say they won’t be able to get married there because of her beliefs,” Welch told Deep South Voice. “He told my mom and she contacted the owner through messenger to only get a ‘seen’ with no reply. That’s when I took it upon myself to go get clarification on her beliefs.”
3. The City of Booneville Spoke Out Against the Discriminatory Policies of Boone’s Camp
The mayor of Booneville and the Board of Alderman took to Facebook to ensure that they were made aware of the comments made by Boone’s Camp Event Hall, which they described as a “privately owned business located within the city of Booneville.”
“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,” the status read. “Furthermore, the City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen do not condone or approve these types of discriminatory policies.”
Within hours, the post garnered dozens of shares and over 100 comments, many from Booneville residents and some from out of state.
“You ‘do not condone or approve these types of discriminatory policies?’ That’s to praise abominable behavior with a faint condemnation,” Dave Weber commented on Facebook. “You need to forthrightly condemn this venue and its discriminatory policy. Until then, you’re as shameful as the people at the Boone’s Camp Event Hall are.”
“I’m thankful every day that I was born, raised, and live in Minnesota,” Brian Glynn wrote.
Booneville Main Street Association also took to Facebook to release a statement regarding the issue of discrimination.
“Booneville Main Street Association is a nonprofit that focuses on Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion, and Organization,” the post read. “We do not discriminate based on Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender. We are working hard to move Booneville in a positive direction and to grow our city! #BloomWithUs”
4. Boone’s Camp Allegedly Refused Serviced to a Gay Couple in 2018
According to Deep South Voice, a woman named Katelynn Springsteen claims that Boone’s Camp refused service to her friends in September 2018 because they were gay.
“I was trying to find my best friend, who is lesbian, a wedding venue,” Springsteen told Deep South Voice. “I was immediately shot down when I was asked if they were okay with a gay wedding.”
Springsteen provided a screenshot of her alleged communication with the venue. The screenshot shows Boone’s Camp Event Hall sent a price guide to Springsteen via Facebook messenger.
“Are you okay with it being a gay marriage ceremony?” Springsteen asks.
“Thanks for checking with us Katelynn, but due to our Christian faith, we would not be able to accommodate you.”
“Ha, thank you,” Springsteen says.
5. Mississippi Law Does Not Allow Discrimination Against Interracial Couples
The Mississippi Legislature passed a “religious freedom” law allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT people on the basis of their religious beliefs about marriage or gender in 2016, which Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed into law. The law was initially struck down in federal court, however, the conservative U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the it to stand. The U.S. Supreme Court did not take the case.
House Bill 1523, which can be officially referred to as the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” says that “the sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that: (a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.
The law does not mention race, so, while under Mississippi law, Boone’s Camp Event Hall does have the right to discriminate against LGBT couples but not interracial couples.