GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids is investigating a recently-opened wedding venue that says it won’t serve LGBTQ couples.
The Broadway Avenue venue opened two weeks ago. On Monday demonstrators gathered outside, protesting the venue’s policies to not host weddings for same-sex couples or transgender couples.
The city has now received multiple complaints that the venue is violating its human rights ordinance, a Grand Rapids spokesperson told News 8. The spokesperson said the Office of Equity and Engagement is investigating.
“At this time, we are unable to speculate if the policy violates the City’s Human Rights Ordinance,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “As outlined in the ordinance, staff must first investigate to determine if a violation has occurred. As of 3 p.m. today, the City’s Office of Equity and Engagement has officially received four complaints and has begun processing them.”
The Grand Rapids City Commission passed an expansion on the ordinance in 2019.
The owners, Nick and Hannah Natale, on Monday told News 8 their policy is based on their religious beliefs.
“We believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Those are our beliefs, what we grew up with and that’s how we run our house, how we run our marriage. So now that we’re opening a business, we are going to continue that,” Hannah Natale told News 8 on Monday.
They said the policy does not apply to wedding guests, employees or vendors. People do not have to be Christian or believe in God in order to get married at Broadway Avenue, the couple said.
The venue owners said they will not reimburse couples who want to pull out of their venue contracts after learning about the policy. They said they have already consulted an attorney and will take legal challenges as they come.