Interracial couple turned away from wedding venue

The owner of Boone's Camp Event Venue has apologized after denying to host a couple because of their interracial relationship.

Posted: Sep 3, 2019 6:17 PM
Updated: Sep 4, 2019 3:36 PM

BOONEVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - The attorney of a Booneville business speaks out after a video went viral of the business owner refusing services to an interracial couple.

The newly-engaged couple from Baldwyn was told they could not have their wedding at Boone's Camp Event Venue.

When a family member of the couple went to the venue to find out why the couple was denied, she got a very disheartening message.

The owner of the venue, Donna Russell, is heard in the video saying, "First off, we don't do gay or mixed race because of our Christian belief," then later saying, "I don't want to argue my faith, we just don't participate."

According to Sean Akins, Russell's attorney, Russell had been taught to believe that interracial marriage was against the teachings of the Bible.

After meeting with a pastor this week, Akins said Russell has now realized that she was wrong.

Akins also said that Russell has apologized to the bride and has been forgiven and that Russell has invited the couple to have the wedding at the venue.

The city of Booneville responded on Facebook by stating they do not condone discrimination of any sort.

The bride, however, is just wanting to focus on her new engagement.

She said the Christian thing to do is to forgive Russell and move on.

According to Russell, she has offered to completely cover the cost of the couple's wedding at Boone's Camp.

She said the couple has already booked another venue, but she and the bride-to-be have agreed on the importance of forgiveness.

Joshua Tom, the legal director and interim director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mississippi issued this statement:

“Religion is of fundamental importance to many Mississippians, and freedom of religion is a bedrock value of the United States. Religion should never be used as a license to discriminate however. It is repugnant to refuse service to one of our fellow Mississippians because they love someone of the same sex or of a different race. It also violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU of Mississippi condemns this discrimination. There is no place for it in the Hospitality State.”

Editor's Note: This article was updated on Sept. 4 to include the ACLU of Mississippi statement. 

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