A same-sex couple called a state park about a wedding venue. They were shocked when they were turned away. The state's giving an explanation, but the couple says others need to be warned.
"She and I met there," said a woman who asked to be anonymous. "It's the place we first laid eyes on each other."
The woman said there were sentimental reasons she wanted to be married at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Montgomery Bell State Park. When she called the park to book the church, she wasn't expecting the response.
"She said, 'partner, as in same sex?''" the woman said. "I said, 'yes, ma'am.' She said, 'they won't allow that.' I got aggravated immediately. I didn't think it'd be an issue because it is a state park. Because it's on state park property, I didn't think they could discriminate. She said it didn't matter because it's owned by the church. I was too upset to really argue with her further, and I ended the conversation."
A representative for the TN Department of Environment and Conservation said the church is not on state land, it's not a state-owned building and has its own policies.
The woman said that's hard to believe.
The church shares the same phone number as Montgomery Bell State Park. You call the park to book a wedding at the church. The Tennessee State Parks website has the church listed as one of their venues. The state parks page reads, "the site of the first Cumberland Presbyterian Church is also located at Montgomery Bell State Park."
We contacted the Dickson County property assessor's office who told us the church is included in the park and not on a separate piece of land.
We wrote back to the representative for the Department of Environment and Conservation who said there could be some confusion because it's privately owned land inside the park. The representative shared a 1950s-era deed for the land.
"I do think it's important for other couples to know, so they don't get their hopes up and get shot down like we were," said the woman.
She added she still got married somewhere else. She said a bouquet in her home is a reminder of a beautiful day with her wife. She said she wants nothing more from sharing her story than to warn other couples.
"I think it's also important in general to know you can't use that space if you're a same-sex couple," she said.