By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com August 25 2014 3:24 PM ET
The management of a Minnesota hunting lodge that refused to host a wedding and reception for a gay couple will now pay for the couple’s festivities at another venue, under a settlement reached with the state’s Department of Human Rights.
Cole Frey and Adam Block of St. Cloud sought to book their wedding and reception at LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation Inc., in Little Falls, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Frey contacted the lodge in February and settled on a date but didn’t state at the time that he’d be marrying another man. The information came out a few weeks later when he went to LeBlanc’s to sign documents and make a security deposit.
“That’s when they found out it would be between two males,” Frey told the Star Tribune. “They told us they don’t condone same-sex marriage, and they wouldn’t be marrying us on their property.”
The couple contacted the Department of Human Rights, which had an investigator pose as a prospective customer trying to book a same-sex wedding at the club, and the investigator was turned away as well. The department then began negotiating a settlement with the venue.
Paul Rogosheske, the club’s attorney, said the operators misunderstood state law, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. “They made a mistake and we did everything in our power to correct it,” he said. “This couple is going to have a great wedding and I can assure you LeBlanc’s is going to be open to everybody.”
By the time the settlement, announced Friday, was reached, LeBlanc’s had booked another event for the date of Frey and Block’s wedding, so it will pay $8,500 for their ceremony and reception elsewhere. They will be married Friday at Camp Ripley Chapel, a National Guard facility in Little Falls, and have their reception at a private home. “We kind of came to the conclusion, anyway, that we didn’t want to have it [at LeBlanc’s] because we didn’t want to be associated with them in that way,” Frey told the Star Tribune.
This is the first settlement involving discrimination by wedding venues in Minnesota since the state legalized same-sex marriage last year. Human rights commissioner Kevin Lindsey praised LeBlanc’s management for willingness to “own up to [a mistake] and make amends,” adding, “I hope this will be an isolated case.”