Same-sex couple says chef refused to cater wedding

A local couple is caught up in the battle over same-sex marriage.

They say their wedding plans fell apart at a Richardson hotel because the chef refused to cater for their reception.

Daren Merchant and Rick O'Connor started planning their wedding after being together for 24 years.

“We both had kind of agreed we wanted to do it legally, and we wanted to do it with friends,” said Merchant. “We didn't want to just run to the justice of the peace.”  

The chosen wedding venue was the Hilton Garden Inn in Richardson, where Merchant’s daughter works.

"It was really exciting that it was actually moving forward,” said Merchant. 

The date was set for Jan. 1, but the planning hit a wall.

Merchant’s daughter told FOX 4 that she overheard disturbing comments about her dad's wedding while she was at work.

“The chef was refusing to do the dinner for the reception. He had major issues with us being a gay couple,” said Merchant. "…About us having the right to be married, about it creating the apocalypse, about it causing all sorts of other issues, comparing us to Caitlin Jenner."

Merchant and O’Connor posted on social media about the situation.

The hotel then reached out to them, hoping to resolve the matter.

On Wednesday, Hilton's corporate office in Dallas issued a statement.

It says, in part,

"We understand that this situation has caused extensive grief and stress for the guest, and the LGBT community. We welcome everyone to our hotel, and emphasize that we have zero tolerance for any discrimination of guests or staff members."

"And I asked the event coordinator if they thought this would be an issue,” said O’Connor. “She reassured me it wouldn't be. And then it turned out it was.”

For now, that's where the wedding plans sit with Merchant and O'Connor -- at a halt.

“We've both talked long and hard about that,” said Merchant. “We're not sure. We're really not sure."

The hotel also pointed out in its statement that it hasn’t been able to substantiate the alleged comments that were made.

In the meantime, Merchant and O’Connor say they have a slew of new supporters.

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