Star Barn owner speaks out on decision to prohibit gay weddings

WEST DONEGAL TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- A Lancaster County wedding venue owner is prohibiting gay marriages saying it goes against his personal religious beliefs. 

 The Star Barn and Iron Ranch at Stone Gables Estate in West Donegal Township is at the center of the hot topic.

Owner David Abel, declined to speak on camera, but tells FOX43 his devout Roman Catholic faith and trust in the bible’s meaning of marriage is what he chooses to stand by.

In an email  Abel wrote in part: "The faith belief of same-sex couples is in direct contradiction to my 2,000-year+ church’s teaching, regarding marriage, which is fully Biblically-based.” 

Adding ... "That is what the First Amendment of the Constitution fully protects – the “free exercise of our religious beliefs.”

Legal experts say in a case like this religious objections to providing certain types of services indo

“If they have religious objections to providing certain types of services to individuals then they may be able to claim that as a reason for not providing services," said Dwight Yoder, Attorney & Partner at Gibbel Kraybill & Hess.

In a recent case, last year the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same sex couple because of a religious objection.

“He claimed that he had a first amendment right to express his views and that he wouldn’t have to make a cake and put his art work on it for a gay wedding," said Yoder.

However, legal experts say that may not be the same in a case for a venue, even under the Federal Law Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“Courts have said that doesn’t necessarily allow individual even on sincere religious beliefs to discriminate against others," said Yoder.

To date, sexual orientation has not been recognize  in any of the federal laws as a protected classification.

“Which means technically people can still discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation, however there have been some court challenges that have called that into question," added Yoder.

Abel says he wants people to know he does not tolerate discrimination, however, he will continue to follow his faith.

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