When Ohio same-sex couple Keith Alan Reinholz and Chad Michael Hardiman sent out their wedding invitations they were met with joyful responses in return, but just one month before the wedding they received an anti-gay letter threatening that their wedding would be met with protests.
The grooms met in April of 2007 through mutual friends on MySpace and have seemingly been engaged for 7 years. Reinholz told The Knot, “I don’t really know when we got engaged, I have worn a ring for the last 7 years to show that I was taken.”
“Being that we never really thought we would be able to marry we never really had an engagement,” he said, sharing that the couple began wedding planning in September of 2015, a few months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.
With their Saturday May 14, wedding fast approaching, the soon-to-be Mr. and Mr. Reinholz mailed their invitations March 24, 2016. The deadline they set for their wedding RSVPs was April 22, but on April 14 (exactly 30 days before the wedding) the couple received a typed letter with anti-gay rhetoric, threatening their wedding day.
“At first we were shocked, sad and extremely hurt. We couldn’t believe that someone would do such a horrible thing,” the couple told The Knot. “We couldn’t believe that someone we knew and let into our hearts could be so cold and full of hate. We spent weeks on this guest list, we really thought we knew the people we invited, but I guess we didn’t.”
“Just wanted to let you both know, you have sent an invitation to the wrong people,” the letter begins. “You thought we supported you as a couple, well boys you were so wrong!”
When asked if the same-sex couple knew who the wedding invitation RSVP was from, Reinholz and Hardiman told The Knot, “Your guess is as good as ours, sadly whoever sent the letter was too cowardly to sign their name or include a return address.”
“Looking at the way it’s worded, it was sent to the intended recipient, we don’t believe that it was delivered to the wrong address,” the couple said. “Since the letter said, ‘You thought we supported you as a couple…’ one can only assume it was someone we let into our circle.”
The future husbands mailed 99 invitations back in March, “95 of them went to family or people we have called friends for as long as Keith and I have been together,” Hardiman said. Though they have a “pretty good idea who is behind the hate-filled letter,” the couple says they will not be naming anyone without solid evidence.
The wedding RSVP letter explains that the couple’s invitation has been sent to an local anti-gay group who plans on protesting the wedding. Insinuating that other wedding guests are “in” on the plan it says, “Some of your friends are only coming to your so-called wedding to help in the protest.”
But despite the threats of “this day is going to be ruined for you…You both are going to get what you deserve,” the couple shared with The Knot that they have not changed their May 14 wedding date, their Varian Orchards wedding venue in East Canton, Ohio, or any of the finer details they’ve been planning since September of last year.
“Besides having to hire a few of our county sheriffs,” Reinholz and Hardiman said wedding plans didn’t change at all. “This isn’t just about gay rights it’s about human rights. We have the chance to stand tall and fight hate with love. Love will win in the end. The wedding will go on as planned.”
“There is only one way in or out,” they said of their 183 acre privately-owned apple orchard wedding venue. “The extra security we’ve had to hire is there to protect the driveway to ensure that only guests are let in.” While the two don’t expect any signs of protest at the wedding ceremony and reception, they shared with The Knot, “If a guest decides they are brave enough to protest they will be promptly removed by the on-duty county sheriffs.“
Given the opportunity to respond to the unnamed sender the couple said, “We are sorry that you feel this way, just know while we can no longer have you in our life we still love and forgive you. It isn’t our place to judge you, just as it was never yours to judge us. God Bless!”
Adding that global response they’ve received after the anti-gay wedding RSVP letter went public has been wonderful, the couple said it’s been giving them “courage to stand up and fight hate with love,” and continue with their wedding day as planned.
The couple shared with The Knot that the theme of their wedding is “country chic” and “it’s going to be fabulous!” They also wanted to offer a “special thanks to our amazingly talented wedding planner Angie,” saying, “Without your love, support, hard work and persistence this day would have never been there to protest. Thank you for everything you have done! We love you!”
The husbands-to-be also wanted to thank their global supporters. “Keith and I are truly humbled by the overwhelming amount of love and support we’ve received from around the world,” Hardiman told The Knot. “It has restored our faith in humanity. The world is full of love and we truly believe that love will always overpower the hate. Love will WIN in the end!”