California winery apologizes for denying gay couple wedding

Viaggio Winery in Acampo, CA issued an apology after receiving backlash for denying to host a same-sex couple’s wedding. Denying services, housing, or employment based on sexual orientation or identity is illegal in California.

Dezanea Reyes and her fiancée Alex Biddle contacted the winery to inquire about holding their wedding at there. The winery sent Reyes an email telling her:

“While Viaggio Winery welcomes your business, we have never hosted a same-sex marriage.” The email said the owner has “a very strong personal religious belief regarding marriage, which is for marriage to be between heterosexual couples only.”

The winery offered to host a cocktail hour, dinner, and reception instead of a ceremony.

After receiving backlash for their decision to not accommodate the couple, on Wednesday, they issued an apology:

“Our staff, our customers and our community have helped me see that I was wrong. Our policy has been changed, effective immediately. All couples are welcome to hire out facilities for weddings and the celebrations that go with them.” 

Viaggio Winery statement:

This video clip is from the winery’s website.

John Sims, professor emeritus at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, told SF GATE:

“In California, it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of certain identified criteria, and certainly sexually orientation would be one of them.

If you’re operating a commercial business that doesn’t have anything to do with a church, your personal religious views are going to be almost irrelevant,”

Simms also referenced other high-profile cases, such as the Colorado Bakery case that “ended with an inconclusive resolution.” But, he believes that if this matter went before the courts, he “does not see a plausible First Amendment argument.”

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