Mississippi business turns away interracial couple

Category:  Opinions
Friday, September 13th, 2019 at 11:21 AM

As parts of the south braced themselves to face Hurricane Dorian, the owners of Boone’s Camp Event Hall in Booneville, Mississippi faced the storm of the internet’s wrath.

The owner, Donna Russell, faced major scrutiny from the internet after she told a black man and his white fiancée, who remain unnamed, that she would not host the couple because they were an interracial partnership.

After the groom’s sister, LaKambria Welch, was notified that the owners were refusing to host the wedding, Welch drove to the venue herself and filmed the encounter she had with the owner and posted it to Facebook.

In the video, Russell said that she did not want to “argue [about] her faith” when Welch confronted her. Welch countered her by stating that she and her brother are of the Christian faith and do not agree with her refusal to marry the couple.

After the initial video went viral, Russell posted a now-deleted apology to Boone's Camp Event Hall's Facebook page, stating they had previously thought that interracial marriage was against the teachings of the Bible and that there were verses to support her belief. "...But to my finding it is not supported at all," Russell said.

After consulting with their pastor, the owners realized they were wrong in their refusals. Russell was also informed that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned bans against interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia in 1967.

As a woman in an interracial relationship and someone who grew up in the church, I was horrified but not all that surprised. Even though Russell has since apologized after searching her Bible and talking to her pastor, it still is too little, too late.

This woman had already told a Christian couple that they couldn’t get married at her venue because their skin colors were different. This isn’t something ever said in the Bible. Russell says that growing up, it was an unspoken rule to stick to your own race.

As someone who has been told to stick to their own race, that excuse just doesn’t work. We don’t have the right to say something is sinful because of our religious beliefs, then backpedal after finally deciding to research it.

Telling two people in love that their want for unity is wrong is something that no person should have a say over.

How this will affect the wedding venue is still up in the air, but as a white woman dating a black man, I’m not upset at the idea of Welch losing business. Welch only publicly changed her view because she was called out by her pastor and her community. Those who continue to seek Welch’s services should consider their own moral standpoints.

While in Mississippi, it is legal to discriminate against members of the LGBTQIA+ community if they wish to invoke religious beliefs, but that law doesn’t apply to discriminating against interracial couples. This could result in a lawsuit.

Will it make it to the Supreme Court? I'm not sure, however, it does force us to question our Constitution. Which is more important? Your freedoms to religion and expression, or that everyone is created equal and we can no longer discriminate against people for their race?

This incident could have been easily avoided if the event venue had been more focused on business instead of gatekeeping others’ love.

I really hope Welch meant her apology and she's learned that she can’t control love. The bride reportedly forgave Russell, and while Russell offered to cover the cost of hosting the offended couple's wedding at her venue, they found another. However, Boone's Camp Event Hall has stated that they denied gay marriages and mix-raced marriages before, so who’s to say how many other couples were turned away because their love wasn’t measuring up to their standards?

Tags: opinions

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