El Paso business denies reception to couple for being gay, wanting strippers

Posted on 09 Aug 2013 at 11:42am

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El Paso couple Monico Ramirez and Jonathan Luna are looking for the perfect venue to hold their wedding reception.

The couple plans to marry soon and went to Grace Gardens on Sunday to tour the facility for their reception. However, they say when the management found out they were a gay couple, they were told they couldn’t have their celebration at the location.

“She just looked at us weird,” Ramirez told El Paso’s KFOX14. “She took us to a lobby, and told us she had to go speak with a manager, we stayed there 15 minutes. She came out and said, ‘I’m sorry guys, but we are not allowed to have any services for same-sex marriage.’

“When she told me that, I felt like somebody was throwing a bucket of water on me, it was kind of sad and embarrassing,” Ramirez said. “I don’t think it’s right to be discriminated like that.”

But Grace Gardens tells a different story in a statement that explains the couple toured the venue with a new employee. They told the employee that the bride-to-be wasn’t present, later asking if they could have strippers at their same-sex wedding reception. The venue doesn’t allow same-sex wedding receptions or strippers.

“While it is true that Grace Gardens does not host same-sex ceremonies, and while Grace Gardens understands and respects that others in the community may reach a different decision regarding these matters, Grace Gardens felt it was important to respond to the news item because there was a very clear implication that Mr. Luna and Mr. Ramirez were somehow mistreated by our facility,” the statement reads in part.

“It wasn’t until the tour was almost completed that the gentlemen inquired as to whether Grace Gardens allowed ‘wild parties with strippers.’ It was this question that garnered the ‘weird’ look described by Mr. Ramirez.  After responding that she would have to ask management for the answer, the gentlemen revealed that they were actually a same-sex couple seeking to have their ceremony and wild party with strippers at Grace Gardens.”

El Paso doesn’t have a citywide nondiscrimination ordinance that prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Back in February, a couple wasn’t allowed to hold their wedding reception at their chosen Fort Worth venue because of the owners’ religious objections. While Fort Worth has an ordinance, the business was outside city limits.

Watch the KFOX14 video here.

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