GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan wedding venue continues to state it will not allow same-sex marriages to take under its roof despite a new ruling Thursday from the Michigan Supreme Court.
The high court ruled Michigan businesses cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But David Kallman, a lawyer who represents both the group connected to the Supreme Court’s decision and local venue Broadway Avenue, said the religious beliefs of these company owners are also protected under the first amendment.
“The decision is only on whether or not the definition of the word sex included sexual orientation and gender identity,” Kallman, senior legal counsel for Great Lakes Justice Center, said. “It was not on the issue of first amendment objections or constitutional protections that might also collide here.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel disagreed.
“It does not mean few rights for anyone else. Legal protections and rights are not a pie. Just because someone else gets protection, doesn’t mean anyone else loses anything,” she said.
Broadway Avenue opened its doors earlier this month. It came under fire after an Instagram post spoke on their policies on same-sex marriages. Owners Nick and Hannah Natale previously told News 8 that they believe that marriage is between a biological man and a biological woman. They continued that their business practices will also reflect their religious beliefs.
“They should not be forced or coerced to violate their religious beliefs and their religious conscience,” Kallman said. “And participate in a religious ceremony that violated their beliefs, it’s that simple. Tolerance is a two-way street here. If we’re going to have tolerance for one side, we should have tolerance for all sides.”
The city of Grand Rapids has confirmed it is investigating Broadway Avenue on the grounds of discrimination. In a statement released Friday, it said “the city seeks to ensure that all residents, visitors and neighbors are safe and feel welcome in our community, and affirm their civil and human rights…The City, through our Human Rights Investigation team, continues to investigate and address allegations of discrimination and harassment….”
The executive director of the Grand Rapids Pride Center, Jazz McKinney, said they are hopeful Broadway Avenue will change its stance.
“We should have the right to marry who we want to marry and use a beautiful venue,” they said. “And not have to go through trauma.”
Kallman said that his clients have not been contacted by the city of Grand Rapids. He added that the question is, “can the city compel or force someone to violate their religious conscience rights. We don’t think they can and we’re prepared to litigate that all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if we have to.”