KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Dollywood officials have offered a refund to a lesbian couple after an employee asked one of the women to turn her T-shirt reading "marriage is so gay" inside-out to avoid offending others during a recent visit to the Tennessee theme park complex.
Park officials were going to meet with the couple in person, but the meeting was called off when Jennifer Tipton and Olivier Odom wanted to bring a representative from Campaign for Southern Equality, a gay rights organization.
Dollywood park spokesman Pete Owens told The Knoxville News Sentinel that the park didn't want to meet with the representative, who wasn't at the park at the time of the incident, so they sent the couple a letter and gave them a refund.
The couple complained after a park worker at Splash Country last month asked Odom to reverse her shirt to avoid offending other visitors.
Owens provided the couple with a statement from Dolly Parton, who said she was sorry for any hurt or embarrassment they felt over the incident.
"Everyone knows my personal support of the gay and lesbian community," Parton's statement said. "Dollywood is a family park and all families are welcome."
Owens had previously said the park has a dress code policy to ask people with clothing or tattoos that could be considered offensive to change or cover up, and that the couple was not asked to leave and they complied with the request to turn the shirt inside out.
Odom said she was surprised by the attention the family's story has received.
"Clearly it's a conversation that needed to be had or there wouldn't have been so much interest in it," she said.