Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Homophobic Winery That Turned Away Lesbian Wedding Changes Policy

Homophobic Winery That Turned Away Lesbian Wedding Changes Policy

A California winery has reversed course and now says it will allow a lesbian wedding on its property.  But the move only arrives after an email denying service began to circulate on social media.

Viaggo Estate & Winery in Lodi, Calif., earlier this week had sent an email to a prospective client that said the venue could not host a same-sex wedding because of owners’ religious beliefs.

“The owner has a very strong personal religious belief regarding marriage, which is for marriage to be between heterosexual couples only,” wrote wedding and events director Angelina Hodgson.

As an alternative, Hodgson said the couple could hold a wedding ceremony elsewhere but then book the winery for the wedding reception.

“You may come in your wedding attire and take photos and receive the same services as other guests of ours who have been married off-site and have the celebration here,” Hodgson wrote.

Bride Nikki Levy, unhappy with the response, published the message on Facebook.

“Hey social media mavens, what say we blow Viaggio Estate Winery up for their overt homophobia?” Levy wrote, She then shared the screen shots of the message and the email for winery owner Teri Lawrence.

That appeared to inspire a change in course.

Lawrence released a statement to The Sacramento Bee Wednesday announcing the venue would welcome all weddings.

“In recent communications with potential visitors, I tried to explore options for celebrations that would accommodate both my religious beliefs and the expectations of our community. I realize now that contrary to my intent, this was hurtful to the people involved,” Lawrence wrote.

“Our staff, our customers and our community have helped me see that I was wrong. Our policy has been changed, effective immediately. All couples are welcome to hire our facilities for weddings and the celebrations that go with them. I am sincerely sorry to have caused anyone pain at a time that should be joyous.”

Lawrence has previously taken public stances on social media against marriage equality in the past, including expressing support for California’s controversial Proposition 8, a marriage ban passed by voters in 2008 but later ruled unconstitutional in federal court.

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