Justice

Store Shows How Discrimination Against LGBTQ Couples Is Alive in the Wedding Industry

Shopping for a wedding gown is supposed to be a happy and exciting time for a bride-to-be. Unfortunately, that experience was denied to one woman, who claims that a store refused to help her just because she was marrying another woman.

On July 8, Julie Ann Samanas posted on Facebook that she was discriminated against by W.W. Bridal Boutique of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

"I'll gladly take my money somewhere else, when a business won't allow you to try on wedding dresses simply because you're gay," she wrote.

 

Since her post went up, W.W. Bridal appears to have either removed their Facebook page or made it private. But the couple spoke to Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) about their experience.

Samanas, her sister, and her fiancé, Shannon Kennedy, visited the boutique to find a gown to match Kennedy's tux. As Samanas told PGN, "We filled out the form that said 'Bride’s name,' 'Budget' and then where it said 'Groom,' we crossed it out and wrote ‘Bride’ and put Shannon’s name down."

That's when Samanas said she was approached by one of the store's staff, who allegedly told them, "I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re Christian and we don’t believe in that; our faith doesn’t let us believe in that."

The couple said they were shocked and left. As Kennedy explained to PGN, "It was unexpected. Afterwards, you think of everything you should have said."

Before the store deleted their Facebook page, the owners said they stand by their decision.

According to PGN, the shop posted the following message on July 11:

"The owners of W.W. Bridal Boutique reserve the rights afforded to them by the First Amendment of the Constitution to live out our lives according to our faith. 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' We will continue to serve our customers based on the tenets of our faith."

But this only seemed to invite more backlash—their Yelp page is now flooded with negative reviews.

WW bridal yelp reviews

WW bridal yelp reviews

ATTN: reached out to W.W. Bridal for a comment, and they did not respond.

W.W. Bridal was been accused of this sort of thing before.

HuffPost reported on a similar incident on a similar incident in August 2014, where owner Victoria Miller defended not serving another lesbian couple, telling the Associated Press that providing the women dresses 'for a sanctified marriage would break God’s law.'"

Is this even legal? 

Pennsylvania does not have a state-wide law against LGBTQ discrimination. It's up to the municipalities within the state to enact those policies—and Bloomsburg is not among the 44 municipalities who have done so.

"I would not say, definitively, that what they did was legal," Andy Hoover, communications director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, told ATTN:. "What's definitive is sexual orientation and gender identity are not in Pennsylvania's non-discrimination law."

Pennsylvania isn't the only place where LGBTQ couples are denied service, legally, in 2017. Jordan A. Maney, owner and founder of All the Days Event Company in San Antonio, a self-styled "progressive" wedding planning company, told ATTN: via email, "Things like this still happen a lot more frequently than reported. I've had so many consultations start with, 'Well, I was talking to a wedding planner but when I told them it's a same sex wedding, I didn't hear back from them.' Or worse."