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LGBTQ+ community protests wedding venue refusing to host gay marriages

Protesters say discrimination is not welcome in Grand Rapids, while the venue's owners say the decision was not malicious.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A group of protestors gathered outside a wedding venue in Grand Rapids Monday night. They were concerned about online posts that the owners are denying LGBTQ community members from getting married there.

Owners of The Broadway Avenue Wedding and Event Venue made their views public last week in an Instagram post saying they will not host gay weddings based on their Christian beliefs.

Hannah and Nick Natale bought the old church in 2018, spending the last four years renovating it. They say the controversial decision was made earlier this year before officially opening.

"It's hard, but we stand by it," says Hannah Natale. "And we're not going to be changing our opinions based on what other people are wanting from us."

Protestors and members of the LGBTQ community outside of the venue's open house Monday night say that choice is a frustrating one.

"Anytime we go anywhere, we have to think about, you know, can we tell people who we are?" says protest organizer Jessica Krebs. "Can we publicly share our relationship? Or do we have to keep it hidden?"

And also the decision is painful to hear.

"You're hurting people with your actions," says Meghan Cytacki-Lewis, another organizer of the protest. "Whether or not you know that, or intend to, it's hurtful to continually be discriminated against, to have part of your identity rejected."

The owners say despite the views of the opposition, the choice isn't meant to be malicious.

"It's not a hatred towards people in their beliefs in their orientation, whatever, you know," says Nick Natale. "It's just that action of marriage that we believe God intended to be with a man and a woman."

Natale says he welcomes the right to protest, saying some protesters even came into the venue itself.

"Great people," he says. "They came in, they enjoyed beverages. They toured the facility, they were extremely nice."

Krebs says the issue may seem small to some, but to her, it's part of a bigger problem.

"When you feel the weight of all of the little things over and over and over and over every day, coming at you from all angles, it is big," says Krebs. "It's a big thing."

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