Mississippi Wedding Venue Refuses Interracial Couple Based on 'Christian Belief'

A Mississippi venue apologized after one of the owners claimed she did not host gay weddings or interracial weddings due to her “Christian belief.” Video of the incident has since gone viral.

LaKambria Welch, who recorded the incident, told Deep South Voice that the owner of Boone’s Camp Event Hall appeared to have learned of her brother and his fiancée via Facebook. Welch and her brother are Black and his fiancée is white.

“The owner took a look at my brother’s fiancée’s page and wrote her back to say they won’t be able to get married there because of her beliefs,” Welch said. “He told my mom and she contacted the owner through messenger to only get a ‘seen’ with no reply. That’s when I took it upon myself to go get clarification.”

A Boone’s Camp Event Hall employee — later identified as Donna Russell, one of the owners of the venue — is seen in the viral video telling Welch that the venue had canceled her brother’s wedding because the couple was interracial. Welch recorded the video when she confronted the owner about the cancelation, Deep South Voice first reported.

“First of all, we don’t do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race — I mean, our Christian belief,” the woman was recorded saying. Welch then told the woman that she and her family were also Christians.

“So, what in the Bible tells you that...?”

Welch began to ask the woman, before being cut off.

“Well, I don’t want to argue my faith,” the woman said. She later added, “We just don’t participate” in gay and interracial weddings.

Donna and David Russell are listed in the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website as the owners of Boone’s Camp Event Hall, LLC.

Since 2016, Mississippi business owners have been allowed to deny services to customers, based on their religious beliefs. House Bill 1523 prevents the government from interfering when businesses and churches act “based upon or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.” The act directly deals with sexual orientation and same-sex marriage, but does not address race.

The City of Booneville issued a statement on Facebook, stating its position on the situation . “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,” the statement said. “Furthermore, the City of Booneville, Mayor, and Board of Aldermen do not condone or approve these types of discriminatory policies.”

Boone’s Camp Event Hall deleted its Facebook page after the video of the incident went viral. However, before deleting the page, the event hall posted an apology, saying that research led them to the conclusion that the views on interracial marriage stated in the video were incorrect.

“As a child growing up in Mississippi our racial boundaries that were unstated were that of staying with your own race. This was never verbally spoken, but it was an understood subject,” the post read, according to screenshots shared by WCBI.

The post continued: “On Saturday my husband asked me to show him in the Bible where it was located as to the content concerning biracial relationships. I studied for a minute and began to think about the history of my learning this and where it came from. I was unable to recall instances where the Bible was used giving a verse that would support my decision.”

Russell, presumably the author of the post, wrote that her decision “which was based on what I had thought was correct to be supported by The Bible was incorrect!… As my Bible reads, there are [two] requirements for marriage and race has nothing to do with either!”

The owner went on to apologize for her “ignorance" in not knowing the truth about the issue. “My intent was never of racism but to stand firm on what I ‘assumed’ was right concerning marriage,” she claimed.

According to The New York Times, Russell apologized to Welch and her family, an apology the family has accepted.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.