Interracial Couple Denied Wedding Venue Due To Owner’s Christian Beliefs - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine Summer 2019 Issue

As if planning a wedding wasn’t stressful enough, one couple in Mississippi was recently put through the wringer at Boone’s Camp Event Hall, a wedding venue in Booneville. The reason? The couple is interracial and, according to the owners’ policy, interracial and queer couples are partnerships they won’t wed in their venue.

The groom-to-be, who is black, and his white future bride received a letter from the hall owners stating that they would not host their wedding because the union violated their Christian beliefs. The groom’s sister, LaKambria S. Welch, then confronted Donna Russell, who owns the venue with her husband, David, about the letter. Welch recorded her confrontation with the owners and posted it to Facebook on August 31.

“First of all, we don’t do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race… I mean our Christian beliefs,” said Russell in the video. “I don’t want to argue my faith. We just don’t participate. We just choose not to.”

The video went viral, prompting Donna Russell to apologize online. “To all of those offended, hurt or felt condemn by my statement, I truly apologize to you for my ignorance in not knowing the truth about this. My intent was never of racism, but to stand firm on what I ‘assumed’ was right concerning marriage.”

That apology has since been deleted.

Interracial marriage was made legal in the United States in 1967 following the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia. City officials posted a message on the City of Booneville’s Facebook page to make it clear that their values were different than the ones expressed in the video. 

“The City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen are aware of the comments recently made by a privately owned business located within the city of Booneville. The City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status. Furthermore, the City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen do not condone or approve these types of discriminatory policies.”