It's the Colorado gay wedding cake debacle all over again - except this time, it's photographers in Virginia.
A lesbian couple is accusing a husband-and-wife pair of Virginia photographers of discrimination after the couple declined to videotape their same-sex wedding ceremony, citing their personal beliefs.
In a grossly one-sided feature by CBS, Paula Fries and Katie Brown said they searched online and found Gardenia Weddings, a Charlottesville-based photography company run by Brett and Alex Sandridge, and reached out to book them for their October wedding. The lesbian couple claimed they tried to make it clear from the beginning that this would be a same-sex ceremony.
“Brown and Fries said, before going too far with wedding vendors, they would let them know they would be accommodating a same-sex couple,” CBS reported.
Fries and Brown told CBS that Gardenia had initially agreed to video their wedding, but backed out only hours after sending the contract for signing, saying they no longer felt they were a good fit for the event.
"After much discussion with my wife (and co-owner) this evening, we have decided that we would not be the best match to film your wedding," Brett Sandridge told Fries and Brown in an email, which Fries posted to her Facebook page. "We are just really wanting to stay true to our beliefs and hope that you can respect that.”
“We would be more than happy to pass your wedding date along to other videographers in our area to see if they would be available to film your wedding if you would like us to do that for you,” he added.
Fries included Gardenia Weddings’ website, email address and phone number in the email screen shot, which immediately prompted an outcry from the social media community. According to CBS, the photographer couple got so much backlash online, they’ve been forced to shut down Gardenia’s Facebook page after a slew of negative comments.
It’s not really clear why the couple originally agreed to film the wedding before ultimately backing out -- but then again, it doesn't seem like CBS ever reached out for their side of the story.
Now, Fries and Brown say the company is discriminating against them for being gay – despite admitting earlier that they’d specifically included information about their same-sex ceremony so that vendors could decide whether they felt comfortable participating. While the couple's made no mention of a future lawsuit over the disagreement, that hasn't helped Gardenia Weddings against the onslaught of internet rage.