An East Texas business owner is defending his decision to refuse a gay couple's request to be married in his wedding venue by taking out an ad explaining why.
“The family is under assault and being destroyed, and this is one more nail in the coffin, and that’s why I have been up front about what I believe,” said Robert Flournoy, the owner of Texas Forest Country retreat.
It was almost a year ago that the first same-sex couple in Angelina County proudly picked up their marriage license.
“The important thing is that you love, not who you love,” said Brian LaFleur, who is also a local business owner. "My money is as good as anybody else’s, and if you’re running a business, it’s about making money and not your personal choices."
On the day that the Supreme Court ruled gay marriage constitutional, Flournoy knew he had to make his stance clear.
“Some say I’m hateful, bigoted, or hypocritical, and they obviously don’t agree, but that’s why it’s important to identify the issue - love is not relevant,” Flournoy said. “I don’t dislike people with different views. I just believe in traditional marriage.”
He took out a front page ad in an local East Texas magazine that said, "Our Christian faith demands that we not participate in same-sex, transgender, or any other perversion of marriage."
It’s something that Flournoy and his family feel very passionately about.
“I'm tired of having to be politically correct all the time, so if you don't agree you can go somewhere else,” Flournoy said.
For the gay couple that will celebrate their one-year anniversary next month, this opinion is hard to understand.
“I think to me, that’s when more of a hatred comes into play, it’s not about religion anymore,” said Paul LaFleur.
Flournoy said that his stance is not about the individual, but is simply an expression of his First Amendment rights given to him by the U.S. Constitution to exercise freedom of speech.
“I believe you obey God or obey man, and you know I obey God,” Flournoy said. “It’s bad for families, it’s bad for Americans, and it’s a violation of my Christian beliefs.”
The East Texas couple that defends their right to marriage explained that religion should not be a factor.
"We’re both Christians, and we both go to church, so you can’t use that,” Brian LaFluer said. ”Just because a person wanted to have a wedding there, it’s not stopping anyone from believing what they believe.”
This battle of beliefs is not only affecting the local level, but has continued to stay at the forefront of national conversation.
"I see all over the country where people are being sued and fined, but I will not be intimidated because this is my constitutional right,” Flournoy said.
Many may wonder about the legality of the situation since 22 other states are protected by anti-discrimination statutes, however Texas is not one of them,
“Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean you don’t have that right to have an opinion. All of the rights that LGBT have, has comes from the same First Amendment,” Flournoy said.
For the community of those being turned away, the LaFluers offer their own words.
"Don’t let it get you down because where one door shuts, there’s a whole bunch more open,” Bryan LaFluer said.
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