A Philadelphia ad executive was denied the opportunity to hold her same-sex wedding at a Mexican resort whose parent company is regularly featured on The Ellen Show.
When Giulia Umile got engaged to her fiancee Jess Harron, the Fishtown couple immediately reached out to their desired wedding venue, hoping to secure a good date.
On the coast of Cancún, the upscale Le Blanc Resorts had welcomed Umile several times before — it had been the venue for a friend’s marriage, and she vacationed there a few times, too. She hoped to bring her 30 closest friends and family members there for a week to watch her say “I do.”
“It’s legitimately one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been,” Umile, COO of Philly-based Slice Communications, told Billy Penn. “It always stuck out in my mind that once I got engaged, that was, like, my only choice.”
But Umile’s dream was quickly shattered. A few hours after she sent in her info to start the planning process, she was rejected. Why did Le Blanc’s parent company Palace Resorts turn down her business?
Because, as Philly Gay News first reported, there would be no groom in attendance at the wedding — just two brides.
“On the form, I crossed out groom and wrote in bride,” Umile said. The reply she received put it in plain language: “We don’t have a program for same sex marriage.” This is despite the fact that same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico.
“It just sucked,” Umile said. “You’re so pumped, and it just totally knocks the wind out of your sails.”
Endorsed by Ellen DeGeneres
To make matters worse, Umile was reminded of the rejection almost immediately on Instagram.
On Dec. 6, just one day after Le Blanc declined to host Umile’s wedding, popular talk show host Ellen DeGeneres teamed up with Jennifer Anniston to give away all-expenses-paid trips to Beach Palace, also owned by Palace Resorts.
It wasn’t the first time The Ellen Show had given away tickets to that network of resorts. Two years ago, DeGeneres gifted a trip to the Palace Resorts’ Moon Palace Jamaica Grande to an entire live studio audience.
“It’s disheartening, because I can’t imagine if she knew they had a discriminatory policy she’d support them in any way,” Umile said.
DeGeneres is a lesbian herself, and has led boycotts against anti-LGBTQ institutions. When Bermuda repealed marriage equality, DeGeneres cancelled a vacation she had planned in the country.
Representatives from both The Ellen Show and the resort have not yet responded to Billy Penn’s requests for comment.
Umile hopes her unfortunate experience will serve as a warning to others who care about LGBTQ discrimination — that when people learn about the resorts’ no-same-sex-wedding policy, they’ll quit spending their money there and opt to go somewhere else.
In the meantime, her wedding plans are still in the works. She found another resort in Riviera Maya that has no problem accommodating her and her fiancee.
“They can make these policies, but people can also choose not to support them,” Umile said. “It would be great if ultimately it led to a change in their policy, to not discriminate against a group of people for no good reason. It just stems from hate.”