Two different same-sex couples over the past week have publicly shared stories of wedding vendors refusing to serve them — demonstrating that anti-LGBTQ discrimination continues in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision.
In Avon, Indiana, David Elliott reached out to Avon Florist to discuss placing an order for his wedding. But when he revealed to the shop’s owner that he was marrying a man, the conversation took a turn, as reported by the Indy Channel:
She said, “What does your bride need?”
I said, “Well, there is no bride.”
Then she said, “Well, then I’m going on vacation and I can’t help you.”
I took that to mean because of my relationship, she couldn’t help me out.
This exchange occurred after the shop owner had already told him that the date of his wedding would be fine.
Owner Rita Harris disputed that story, however, when contacted by LGBTQ Nation. She said it had nothing to do with them being a same-sex couple, but said she’s getting out of the wedding business. “What I said to him was that it conflicted with a vacation I have planned and I wasn’t taking any more orders at this time,” she told LGBTQ Nation. “I’m not planning to take any more weddings requests because I’m planning to retire.”
Avon Florist’s website still lists “Weddings” as one of the specialty services it offers.
In his initial Facebook post explaining the incident, Elliott expressed sympathy that “everyone has their right to believe what they want,” but just asked those who are open to the public to actually serve the public. “I’m not asking you to take any part in my life,” he wrote. “Just do the job you are there to do.”
A same-sex couple planning their wedding in Orange, Virginia, faced similar discrimination from a videography company called Gardenia in nearby Charlottesville. Gardenia had sent Paula Fries and Katie Brown a contract and invoice, but before they’d even signed it, the company’s owners sent a follow-up email backing out of the arrangement because they wanted “to stay true to our beliefs.”
Brown posted the email from owners Alex and Brett Sandridge on Facebook with the simple comment, “If you plan on using Gardenia Weddings, make sure you’re a straight couple.”
In an interview with CBS19 News, Brown said, “It felt like the rug was pulled out from under us,” adding, “It demonstrates to me the value system some people still have and it makes me so sad. It feels like we’re not on equal footing with heterosexual couples.”
Gardenia has not publicly commented — and doesn’t appear to be open to other comments, either. After the couple’s supporters left negative comments on the company’s social media accounts, those comments have since been deleted, according to an update Fries posted Sunday evening. Gardenia’s Facebook page has been taken down, its Instagram account has been set to private, and only a few recent negative comments remain on its YouTube videos.
These incidents are the latest reminders that discrimination against same-sex couples is still commonplace. Only 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public accommodations. Neither Virginia nor Indiana is among them.