Highlands Tap Room planning massive party to celebrate (or denounce) Supreme Court marriage decision
The city, state, country and world are all anxiously awaiting the June decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, which could invalidate same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky and every state in America. The management of the Highlands Tap Room are so optimistic about that outcome, they’re already planning the grandest of gay marriage celebrations soon after the decision, inviting anyone and everyone to get married right there in the bar.
On a Facebook event page for the “Mother of All Wedding Parties,” the Tap Room says it’ll have “everything you need to have your wedding and reception all in one stop,” such as licensed ministers, cake, decorations and music. The only thing the betrothed would need to bring is a marriage license from the county clerk’s office.
The exact date of the celebration is yet to be determined, but the Tap Room will announce it immediately after the Supreme Court ruling, so long as the justices side with marriage equality and Kentucky’s ban goes into the dustbin of history.
Tommy Clemons, who owns Highlands Tap Room on Bardstown Road along with his wife, Sally, tells Insider Louisville the event was the brainchild of their manager, Will Hardesty, and he was more than happy to support it.
“We’ve always been a supporter of equal rights, so we thought it would be a fun thing to do,” says Clemons. “I know that Will is really excited about the possibility of it becoming legal next month, so we thought we would just get the ball rolling right away.”
Hardesty tells IL that before Big Bar and Nowhere Bar opened on Bardstown Road, Highlands Tap Room served as a sort of de facto gay bar for that stretch of the road. After Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law made headlines in March, Hardesty says he came up with the idea of the Tap Room embracing the rights of those who have helped support the bar for many years.
“Last month we were talking about what was going on in Indiana and Memories Pizza, which said they wouldn’t serve gay people, and it just kind of clicked,” says Hardesty. “With everyone expecting the court to rule this way, we thought it would be a great thing to say to the people that have supported us that we support you, and have a little fun with it and do something right.”
The Facebook event page currently lists 322 attendees, which Hardesty says is 10 times their biggest Facebook event for the bar, adding “I’m getting a little worried that’s it’s going to be too big.” He says six licensed ministers have already offered their services for the event, though not many have indicated yet that they will actually get married.
“Even if no one ends up getting married, it will be a big celebration,” says Hardesty, who is gay. “I’m 47, and when I was 20 I never thought this would happen. At least it says that Highlands Tap Room and people in the Highlands are certainly ready for gay marriage. On the off chance that they rule against us, then we will still marry people — even if it’s not binding in Kentucky — because we think it’s the right thing to do.”
Hardesty adds that opposite-sex couples will also be free to get married or renew their vows at the event. Here’s a helpful FAQ from the event page:
Do I have to be gay to be married?
NO. We are all about equality — all you need is a marriage license and love.
Will attending a gay wedding make me gay?
NO. Don’t be stupid.
What if I’m already married?
Renew your vows! Or just share your love with the community. Either’s cool.
Why didn’t you have a party when straight marriage was legalized?
We weren’t open then but get us a time machine and we’re there!
Is Ruth Bader Ginsberg going to be there?
We’re sending an invite.
Does this mean the Tap Room’s a gay bar?
NO. The Tap Room is an EVERYONE bar.