Minnesota couple settles marriage discrimination case

A Little Falls wedding venue initially rejected a same-sex wedding in violation of Minnesota law.

Cole Frey and his fiancé called the LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation, Inc., to ask about pricing and availability. Inititally, LeBlanc’s confirmed the dates for Frey’s wedding, but when the owner realized the wedding was between two men, the owner said that his hunting lodge would not host same-sex weddings. Frey filed a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

A representative of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights followed up by posing as a customer planning a same-sex wedding and LeBlanc’s gave the same response.

The department investigated and found probable cause to believe that LeBlanc’s had violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.
LeBlanc’s and Frey quickly reached an agreement and the wedding went on as planned with an apology and free use of the venue.

“Both parties in this case should be recognized for reaching an agreement swiftly and allowing Cole Frey and his fiancé to enjoy their wedding day with this case fully resolved,” Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said in a statement. “This is the first public accommodation case for the Department related to same-sex marriage, and it serves as a reminder that businesses may not deny services based on a person’s sexual orientation just as they can’t deny services on the basis of race or gender.”

LeBlanc’s admitted fault through an attorney.

“We made a mistake and we corrected it as quickly as possible,” said Paul Rogosheske, the attorney representing LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation, Inc. “We did everything we could to remedy it. We wish them the best.”

LeBlanc’s is the first documented case of discrimination since the marriage equality law went into effect on Aug. 1, 2013. Opponents of LGBT rights have repeatedly claimed that organizations and businesses would be sued and fined for refusing to provide services to paying same-sex couples. The LeBlanc’s case is the first such case in over a year, and it was resolved without fines or lawsuits.