Knights of Columbus Council 934 reversed its decision to deny a same-gender couple use of their hall for a wedding, after public outcry against the Knights’ discrimination grew rapidly.
Alexandra Marie Shields and Taylor Butcher reserved the Madison, Indiana, hall last autumn for their wedding reception, after Indiana legalized same-sex marriage in October.
On this past Monday, Council 934 informed the couple that their reservation would be cancelled because the Knights do not recognize same-gender marriage. On Facebook, Butcher described what happened, writing, in part:
” ‘I fought back tears and told him that the Pope disagreed with him and that he was losing business. [The Knight] stood firmly by his discrimination. We only want to do the reception there. Literally just a party. We are being blatantly discriminated against. We may not step foot into the establishment because we are gay. That is hatred and this has to stop.’ “
However, that decision was reversed on Wednesday, and the Council posted the following statement on Facebook:
“Council 934 regrets that there was some confusion over the hall rental request and that no contract was ever signed. We are happy to accommodate Taylor’s request to hold her reception there and we will waive the usual hall rental fee, given the misunderstanding that occurred.”
According to ThinkProgress, Butcher was concerned because wedding plans were finalized and a change of venue would have been highly disruptive for guests. ThinkProgress notes further:
“As of press time, Butcher said no one from the council had directly contacted them to share this news and it is unclear whether this is a one-time exception or indicative of genuine a policy change…Neither the local council nor its Grand Knight responded immediately to a ThinkProgress inquiry about its policies.”
It appears that Council 934 changed its decision due to public pressure, which included journalistic exposure, critical social media postings, and phone calls to the organization. There was also disagreement among the local Knights. The Council admitted, “A portion of the council disagrees with the decision that was made.” Butcher told ThinkProgress of this support:
” ‘We’ve gotten a lot more support on this than we thought we were going to be getting. We weren’t expecting people to go to their Facebook page and rate them with 1 star…because everyone we know is making a big deal out of it, that’s what’s helping and making them feel the pressure.’ “
While Butcher and Shields’ wedding reception will proceed this upcoming spring, it is unclear whether this Indiana Knights of Columbus council will change its policy about same-sex weddings. Butcher is hopeful they will:
“I hope they are willing to change their policy for us and all of the future couples wishing to use this venue. Even if we just change the policy of one organization. That’s something. And Ale[xandra] and I will have made a difference on this issue. How cool.”
However, 2015 may hold serious problems in Indiana as the state legislature is considering a bill that would legally protect LGBT discrimination when it is based on a person’s religious beliefs against homosexuality. Still, it is a positive sign that this local Knights Council made a Gospel-based decision to welcome all at their facilities.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry