Two women turned away from holding their wedding at a Cancun resort plan to file a complaint with the Mexican government for discrimination.
Giulia Umile and her fiancée, Jess, last month filled out an application to be married in November 2019 at Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun. They were planning to bring more than 30 guests to the resort, which runs about $800 per room a night in peak season.
“We are not performing same-sex weddings at the moment,” Le Blanc wedding coordinator Laura Jiménez wrote in a Dec. 5 email to Umile, who provided a copy to PGN.
Mexico implemented a forward-thinking federal law in 2003 banning all forms of discrimination. Individual states determine certain matters such as civil law. In the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, same-sex marriage became legal in 2017.
Le Blanc is one of 10 beachfront resorts in Cancun, Los Cabos and Jamaica owned by Palace Resorts. Officials from Palace refused to comment on Umile’s wedding.
“It is an outright form of discrimination and it is just bad business,” said LGBT-tourism expert and author Jeff Guaracino. “For a luxury resort that proclaims to be an adults-only, all-inclusive resort, it is a surprising misstep.”
Umile and her fiancée have since arranged to hold their wedding at a different Cancun resort. But Umile, COO of Slice Communications in Old City, said she’s not letting the matter drop.
“I will absolutely file a complaint with the Mexican government,” she told PGN from El Salvador, where she is currently traveling. "If there are laws against this kind of discrimination, then the resort should be held accountable. I'm not going to give up, and I will make sure my voice is heard and hope they change their policy."
Rue Landau, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, encouraged the couple to pursue the matter with the Mexican government.
“The couple should file a complaint with the Mexican government to prevent the resort from discriminating against other LGBTQ couples in the future,” she said.
“Antidiscrimination laws are in place for a reason — to ensure that everyone is treated equally regardless of who they love.”
Palace Resorts properties are featured regularly on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Just last month, the out DeGeneres gifted a six-day stay at Beach Palace, a Palace Resorts property in Cancun on day nine of her “12 Days of Giveaways.”
Ross Williams, the show’s supervising producer, told Umile in an email that “we are aware of the articles” on Palace Resorts’ rejection of Umile’s wedding. Show publicist Melissa Little Padgitt responded to a PGN email with “no comment.”
The show’s refusal to comment is “disappointing, to say the least,” Umile said. “To support a company that is so clearly discriminating against gays just doesn’t make sense. Ellen has a very powerful voice and this would be an amazing opportunity to put morals in front of business.”
Guaracino said the tourism industry has been on the forefront of welcoming the LGBTQ community.
Le Blanc “is not only out of step with the times, but also our industry,” he added. “This is not just an LGBTQ issue; this is an issue for all visitors who care about equality. Gay and straight travelers vote with their wallets.”