BLENDON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A popular wedding venue in Ottawa County is telling a gay couple to look elsewhere.
Post Family Farm west of Hudsonville says it isn’t turning same-sex couples away, but it won’t offer them the same services.
One gay couple says they always wanted to get married in a barn-type setting. Estefanie Echevarria and Aubrey VandenBosch thought they found the perfect spot at Post Family Farm — until they said they were gay.
“Just because we are two girls, we still have the same visions as a straight couple would with the ceremony as everyone else. It’s not too different, it’s just two girls,” Echevarria said.
Echevarria and VandenBosch got engaged Oct. 20.
“There was people cheering and screaming like congratulations and that was the most love I’ve ever felt in one time,” VandenBosch remembered.
VandenBosch said she was ecstatic and began planning the wedding immediately, emailing Post Family Farm.
“That was the first place that I openly said, ‘We are two women and we respect everyone’s beliefs and we want everyone to be comfortable.’ And they send back a reply of basically, ‘We don’t support same-sex marriage and we think you should find someplace else.’ Everything they could to not say no,” VandenBosch said. Oh, it hurt, it stung.”
The Post Family Farm sent a statement to 24 Hour News 8 saying, “In full disclosure, our family holds a traditional view of marriage, which we believe to be a sacred covenant between one man and one woman.” It went on to say the Post family respects the right to the couple’s beliefs and “will not limit the use of our venue to exclusively traditional marriages.” The farm says it will not discriminate, but encouraged the couple to determine if the venue’s view on marriage would dampen the celebration and consider providing their own wedding coordinator because Post Farm said that’s a “very personal service” and “a role that might be much better filled by someone who has experience with non-traditional weddings.”
“Why are we treated differently than everyone else?” VandenBosch wondered. “Why don’t we have the same event coordinator and everything? It’s just crazy.”
“The sad reality just hit that we are in West Michigan,” Echevarria said. “We’re not accepted as much as we would like to be.”
“We just want people to know that it happens,” VandenBosch said.
“The awareness that this is what’s happening in 2017 still. Even though there are laws that are passed to protect us, we are still being discriminated against,” Echevarria added.
The couple found a different venue. Their wedding will be held at The Barn at Monterey Valley near Hopkins.
Post Family Farm’s full statement to 24 Hour News 8:
“Post Family Farm is owned and operated by the Post Family and their employees in West Michigan. We enjoy fulfilling our motto, “An 80 Acre Reminder of Life’s Simple Pleasures” in the context of our small-town community. Weddings are one of the services that our Farm provides for the people in our community and we feel so privileged to play a role in one of the most significant days in people’s lives. In full disclosure, our family holds a traditional view of marriage, which we believe to be a sacred covenant between one man and one woman. If you have a different view of marriage, we respect you and your right to your own beliefs and actions accordingly. In spite of the potential differing views of marriage that we may hold, we will not limit the use of our venue to exclusively traditional marriages. We will offer the same professional, courteous, non-discriminatory service to anyone, regardless of race, religion, sex, age, or disability. That being said, much of our service is very personal and before reserving our venue, we would encourage you to 1) determine if your awareness of our view on marriage will dampen your wedding celebration and 2) consider providing your own wedding coordinator for the day of your event. Serving as a wedding coordinator is a very personal service that we offer as an option to brides and grooms, but a role that might be much better filled by someone who has experience with non-traditional weddings. If you choose to provide your own wedding coordinator, our professional services will still be offered to include such activities as the set-up and tear-down of the event.”