Choosing a wedding gown should be an exciting, if perhaps nerve-wracking, experience. But the process takes on a whole new level of stress in Pennsylvania, where stores can — and do — refuse business to same-sex couples without repercussions. Such was the case last week, when the Christian owners of W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg, Penn., told a woman that God prohibited them from fitting her for her wedding.
Outraged, the woman quickly took to Facebook, according to local news station PA Homepage, which reprinted the status for its viewers. "I was put on hold for five minutes so that the lady could get her appointment book," the woman wrote. "She took me off hold and said unfortunately she would not be able to schedule an appointment for us because they currently do not service same-sex couples — it's just not something they do."
The woman and her partner have chosen not to reveal their identities, but their online post received hundreds of supportive comments, and the incident agitated people in the city so much that the Bloomsburg city council met Monday to discuss how they could prevent such discrimination against the LGBT community in the future.
While the movement in favor of same-sex marriage continues to gather steam, some businesses have used the life event as a symbolic last stand. In the case of W.W. Boutique, the store's actions are completely legal at present because Pennsylvania still allows discrimination based on sexual orientation. In June, Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, declared he would simply give up the wedding cake portion of his business after a local court supported the case of a same-sex couple who claimed Phillips had discriminated against them because they were gay.
But there are no such protections in Pennsylvania.
"We feel we have to answer to God for what we do. And providing those two girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God’s law," W.W. Boutique owner Victoria Miller told the Press Enterprise. Her lawyer, Al Luschas, added that Miller has a "liberty interest" if the wedding violates her "firmly and honestly held religious beliefs."
While it may not technically be illegal yet for Miller to to deny service to same-sex couples, it's probably not good business sense. According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, half of all Americans believe that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry. Nearly 7 in 10 respondents said that businesses should not be allowed to refuse service to gays.
Image Credit: Washington Post
Proving the poll's perspective, within the last two days, online listings of the family-owned store received a slew of bad reviews from people on Yelp, Google and Facebook, where most people said they wouldn't be supporting the bridal shop due to its homophobic views.
"It’s definitely biased and ignorant," Bloomsburg resident Susan Welliver told PAHomePage. "I'm married to a man, but I wouldn't shop there... I wouldn't tell my kids to shop there."