Venue has banned weddings of LGBTQ couples. Now the Michigan city is fighting back

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Several months after a new wedding venue announced that same-sex couples would not be allowed to get married at their site, a Michigan city has issued a citation against its owners.

Owners of The Broadway Avenue in Grand Rapids previously said in a social media post that they wished for their business to remain true to their Christian faith.

“The two people that are getting married at our venue must be a man and a woman,” said the owners, Nick and Hannah Natale, McClatchy News reported. The venue has since deleted Instagram and Facebook posts about their stance.

In the citation issued on Monday, Oct. 3, the City of Grand Rapids says the venue is violating its Human Rights Ordinance.

The city told WOOD-TV the venue violated a section of the ordinance that would allow the city to issue a civil infraction following a city investigation. The Broadway Avenue’s post “discriminates, or suggested, supported, or affirmed discrimination,” the city told the station.

An attorney for the venue said in a statement to that they were prepared to take the case to the Michigan Supreme Court if needed.

“We’re going to vigorously oppose this,” the attorney, David Kallman, told the publication. “They’re totally unspecific here of what it is they’re claiming my client did, but the bottom line is we’re going to oppose any claim we committed any wrong here. Obviously, based on their First Amendment rights, that trumps any ordinance (claiming) discrimination here.”

Kallman added that while the Natales stated publicly it would not allow same-sex marriages, they have not “actually denied any customers on those grounds.”

The Broadway Avenue has 10 days to respond to the citation, according to WZZM.

Many people disagreed with the venue’s policies, including more than 13,000 people who signed a petition calling for the city to enforce its ordinance. But the owners previously said they would not change their stance, McClatchy News reported.

“We believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Hannah Natale told WOOD-TV. “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.”

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