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El Paso venue won’t allow same-sex marriage ceremonies

A gay El Paso couple contacted ABC-7 to report an Upper Valley wedding venue that won’t let them get married there.

The owner of Grace Gardens says she is exercising her religious freedom in denying same-sex marriages.

“You drive by the place and you think, ‘What a beautiful place,'” said Paul Mendez, who has been partners with El Pasoan Gabe Barrera for 15 years. “So we thought, ‘What a great place to have our wedding.’ That’s it.”

Mendez and Barrera said they had been planning to marry in Las Cruces, but after Friday’s Supreme Court ruling, they decided to check out Grace Gardens on the outskirts of El Paso, but still in Texas.

“As soon as I pretty much told her, ‘Hey, its going to be for a gay ceremony, she said OK, well you know what, I’m sorry, I don’t want to raise your spirits anymore, but the owners are entitled their opinions, they do not allow gay marriages in their facility,'” Barrera said.

Grace Gardens owner Sandra Rodriguez didn’t want to speak on camera with ABC-7, but she sent this statement:

“Grace Gardens acknowledges the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the right of same-sex couples to marry and be free from government sanctioned discrimination. However, Grace Gardens also believes in exercising its religious freedom and its belief that the holy covenant of marriage is based upon Holy Scriptures. The Old and New Testaments provide scriptures that support our stance on Biblical marriage.

-Genesis 2:22-24: “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.'”

-Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.”

-Mark 10: 6-9 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

“Grace Gardens believes marriage is a covenant established by God between a man and a woman only. Grace Gardens also believes in the constitutional rights of individuals and the entities they own to express their own religious beliefs including their objections to same-sex marriages. Grace Gardens is a private entity run by individuals that hold sincere and deeply held beliefs that same-sex marriage runs contrary to the teachings of the Holy Bible. As Grace Gardens respects the freedom and rights of all people, including the LGBT community, Grace Gardens asks that same-sex couples, and the public at large will respect the right of Grace Gardens to exercise their freedom and right to not allow such marriages to take place at Grace Gardens. Religious freedom and human rights should be exercised on a mutual level of respect.”

“I wasn’t really offended, cause to be honest, I wasn’t really surprised, considering that it had only been a day since this verdict went down,” said Mendez.

“It’s just like somebody has punched you in the stomach,” added Barrera.

“It was just like the first time I ever felt discriminated against personally,” said Mendez.

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