Two Iraq war veterans denied service by Tennessee venue. (x)
Anthony Wilfert and Brian Blas were denied a venue to hold their commitment ceremony by Mint Springs Farm in Tennessee. The two served in Iraq under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy with Fort Campbell. The couple have been together for nine years.
Wilfert and Blas initially had a positive experience at Mint Springs Farm, with an employee taking them on a tour of the venue. “I made it clear from the get-go that it was a same-sex ceremony,” said Wilfert. “He explicitly made it clear that it was not an issue, that they would host that type of ceremony.” The website even says it is an ‘all-inclusive venue.’ Just days later, the couple received an e-mail from the owner of Mint Springs Farm reading, “Unfortunately, until same sex marriage is legal in the state of Tennesse, we cannot participate in this ceremony at our venue. I wish we could help, I truly do, but our hands are tied in this situation.”
The couple made it clear this was not a wedding ceremony, it was a commitment ceremony. Wilfert said, “To have fought in the military for freedoms and liberties of all Americans, it can be quite deflating to come back to fight a whole new set of obstacles.” In a statement to Nashville’s WSMV, Mint Springs Farm said that they only host wedding ceremonies and the staff member who spoke to the couple was unaware of this policy. “We’ll go somewhere else, and I think that’ll make for a better wedding at the end of the day,” said Blas.
After the story broke last week, Mint Springs Farm changed their policy. Here is the statement obtained by the Tennessee Equality Project:
“As owners of Mint Springs farm we have had time to regroup and reflect. We have reached out to the community and started a dialogue with Tennessee Equality Project. The Executive Director, Chris Sanders was able to meet with us. In order to move forward we have decided to change our policy. We will offer commitment ceremonies for any future couples that have a legal license from other states or countries. We also want to broaden this offer to include couples who simply want a commitment ceremony with no intention of obtaining legal marriage license. This will be our policy moving forward, it will remain true to all future prospective clients.”