First Posted: 7/15/2014
A day after news broke that The Inne of the Abingtons in Lackawanna County refused to hold a same-sex wedding reception for a lesbian couple, the business reportedly received threats of violence.
But the executive director of NEPA Rainbow Alliance Inc., while disagreeing with the venue’s decision, on Friday criticized the hateful and threatening messages.
“The NEPA Rainbow Alliance Inc. does not agree with any venue’s choice to discriminate, however we respect their right to do so, just as they should respect our right to promote those venues who are welcoming gay couples with open arms,” John Dawe wrote in an email to the newspaper.
“We will continue to press for laws to make discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression illegal a reality. That said, we also decry those who have sent hateful and threatening messages to the owners and management of the Inne of the Abingtons, and will support law enforcement in any way possible in investigating any threats or acts of vandalism or violence,” he said.
Dawe said he was told that threats of violence and vandalism had been directed at the venue. Several attempts to reach someone from the Inne of the Abingtons for a comment were unsuccessful.
Several media outlets reported that a staff member at the Inne of the Abingtons, in North Abington Township, responded to an email from a woman inquiring about a same-sex wedding reception for her and her partner by writing: “Unfortunately, we do not hold same sex marriages at our facility.”
The venue’s wedding and event planner went on to say: “I truly do hope you find somewhere that will fulfill all your wedding dreams.”
A flurry of negative reviews criticizing the venue owner were posted on the Inne of the Abingtons’ Facebook page July 10 and July 11, along with photos depicting screen shots of the email from the event and wedding planner and comments supporting the Inne owners.
However, while a judge recently legalized same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, there are no laws prohibiting discrimination for sexual orientation. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and other groups are pushing legislation, though, to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the state.
No issues locally
Meanwhile, a check with local venues found them open to same-sex wedding receptions. In fact, some already have held them.
Best Western East Mountain Inn and Suites on Route 115 in Plains Township, has and has had additional inquiries.
“We would love to have them,” said Mandy Loeffler, an East Mountain Inn sales associate.
“We don’t have an official policy regarding this matter, but we are in full compliance of the laws of Pennsylvania,” said Joy Hubshman, director of sales and marketing for Irem Clubhouse in Dallas Township. “We would welcome all patrons here, absolutely. We haven’t come across it as of yet.”
Genetti’s Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Wilkes-Barre was the venue for a same-sex wedding reception a few years ago, after the wedding was held in Vermont, said Lindsay Bezick, event manager.
“We are the largest wedding facility in the area,” Bezick said. “We certainly welcome all couples. We’re actually participating in (NEPA Rainbow Alliance’s) PrideFest this August. They are doing a special wedding vendor tent.”
The Woodlands Inn and Resort states on its website its support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and families.
“We are committed to providing the finest in accommodations and serving as the premier gay wedding venue in Northeastern Pennsylvania – especially now that marriage equality has arrived in our state,” the website states.
Staff writer Steve Mocarsky also contributed to this story.