Knights of Columbus Council Will Allow Lesbian Couple’s Wedding Reception

Taylor Butcher and Alexandra Marie Shields

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

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7 thoughts on “Knights of Columbus Council Will Allow Lesbian Couple’s Wedding Reception

  1. jono113 January 3, 2015 / 1:11 am

    Well, isn’t that gracious of them. I don’t understand why anyone would want to hold a reception or otherwise do any business with an organization that is as openly hostile to GLBT persons as the K of C. They have contributed literally millions to political campaigns to deny GLBT persons any legal protection, not just civil marriage. They also oppose legislation aimed at curtailing bullying that so often is directed at gay, lesbian and transgender young people.

    • Friends January 3, 2015 / 7:32 am

      I did some follow-up Googling, and discovered this fact:

      “• Indiana: The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, following a lower court’s decision, on September 4 struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. When the Supreme Court rejected an appeal, same-sex marriage became effectively legal.”

      So apparently the K of C’s initially discriminatory behavior depends upon whether their physical establishment may be considered as an extension of Roman Catholic Church property, and thus come under the RCC’s legal protection against honoring marriages which violate “denominational theological or religious beliefs”. I expect the K of C would LOSE in a court challenge — as long as they do business with the general public, including the non-Catholic general public. It would be a very different matter if the couple in question were requesting to hold the marriage ceremony itself within a Roman Catholic Church, even if it was with a “visiting Episcopal minister” presiding. Interesting case — but I just wish Rome would get it together to proclaim definitively that ALL FAITHFUL LOVING RELATIONSHIPS are Holy in Presence of God. Angry, frustrated (and sometimes privately hostile and hateful and closeted) Roman Catholic clergy are the root of the problem here. Pope Francis has really got his work cut out, if he wants to change this culture of negativity and vindictiveness toward same-sex couples in the RCC.

  2. Ann Neville January 3, 2015 / 5:26 am

    It always saddens me when religion is used as an excuse for loving less, not more, spreading hatred and hurting others out of some misconceived idea of what God might want or say, masking people’s intolerance and fear. Let’s hope 2015 will see some significant progress in accepting people as people whoever and whatever their lifestyle, religion, sexual orientation, gender, colour, origins or any of the other differences that make human beings the varied and interesting species that we are.

  3. Walter G Sandell Jr January 3, 2015 / 10:32 am

    It will take a long time to reverse the indoctrination we, both Knights and others, have received from the RCC. Questions about Columbus’ treatment of natives may mean the organization should be renamed.

  4. rondre January 11, 2015 / 1:00 pm

    KofC have always been know to be racist, sexist, and suffer from homophobia. I would never trust them and their money.

  5. Brian January 22, 2015 / 8:31 am

    This is why the Knights of Columbus needs to close their buildings and move back to the parish, where Fr McGivney intended them to be. The councils do not own these buildings, they are usually owned by a “Building Corporation” and the K of C gets use of the facility. The councils belong in the parish. In many cases they need to get out of the bingo and bar business and go back to church.

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