Gay Weddings

Are Vendors Allowed to Discriminate Against Doing a Same-Sex Wedding?

I booked an appointment with a photographer who said he was available and interested in photographing our wedding. After I filled out his questionnaire he emailed me back and said he isn't willing to photograph a same sex wedding. Are vendors allowed to say that they won't provide their services to same-sex couples?

Re: Are Vendors Allowed to Discriminate Against Doing a Same-Sex Wedding?

  • edited December 2011
    I'm sorry that happened to you.

    It sounds like discrimination to me.  What if he would have said, "I refuse to photograph an interracial wedding?"  That would be just as discriminatory, and illegal.

    I would consider contacting your local Better Business Bureau.  I'm sure the ACLU would have a field day with it, but I would be uncomfortable with the potential for press attention.
  • aehuberaehuber
    First Comment
    member
    edited December 2011
    Unfortunately, as unfair and wrong as it is, I'm pretty sure he is able to do this.  Discrimination laws traditionally protect against racial, gender, and age discrimination.  That, however, may depend on what state you're in.  I think you should look into contacting the Better Business Bureau.
  • alisonzalisonz
    100 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    Its tricky because photography is not just a "service" its considered an artistic expression.

    This same thing happened to a lesbian couple in New Mexico in 2008. They sued and the photographer and was found guilty of discrimination and ordered to pay the couple's legal fees.

    alison + irene | 10-10-10 | Studio 450

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  • 2dBride2dBride
    2500 Comments Fourth Anniversary 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
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    edited December 2011
    That is not illegal under federal law.  However, California does have laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the provision of services.  I'm not licensed to practice in California, so I am not sure how broad the scope of that law is.  And in particular, since same-sex marriage is again prohibited in California, I'm not sure whether he can get around the law by saying he will only photograph marriage ceremonies.

    I would suggest talking with your local Human Relations Commission to get some ideas of what your remedies might be in this situation.  Here is a link to the one in San Diego.
  • edited December 2011
    This really sucks and makes me so mad at our current government situation involving gay rights.  One day - our children will wonder how our generation (and our parents') could be so cruel towards same-sex couples.

    On the bright side- at least you found out now and not the day of.  I would rather the photographer outright refuse now than have crappy pics the day of.  The attitude of your photographer is so important.  Good luck finding someone who will celebrate your love!

    You should still make a fuss.  I would never book any vendor who wasn't gay rights friendly (I don't have any close friends or family that are gay- I just really believe in equal rights- there are many people who feel the same way as me- together- we can show we do not tolerate hate).  Let everyone in your community know about this photographer's judgement towards you and your relationship!
  • KatMoonKatMoon
    First Comment
    member
    edited December 2011
    Actually, when you're operating a business and serve the public, it's not about your artistic expression - even as a wedding photographer. It's discrimination - plain and simple. I'd file a complaint and persue legal options because it simply sucks but don't let it take away from your wedding day. There's plenty of us who would be more than happy to photograph your wedding.
  • duhbecksterduhbeckster
    10 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    That totally sucks, but as renee said, it's much better to find that out now rather than discovering on your wedding day that your photographer is a raging homophobe. When my fiancee and I were emailing and meeting with photographers, some of the first questions we asked were "Have you photographed a same-sex wedding before?" and "If not, would you be comfortable photographing a same-sex wedding?" We figured that way if they answer was no, we didn't waste any time and could move on to the next person. Also, it might help to start with photographers that advertise themselves as gay friendly. http://www.soyoureengayged.com/vendor-list/photography/ lists several in California, though I didn't check to see if any of them are in your immediate area.

    Having said that, I actually found most of the photographers we interviewed on WeddingWire. My fiancee and I spent hours poring over pictures to figure out what style of photography we were looking for, and then we sent that "are you available x date? how do you feel about teh gayz?" email. And honestly, we got an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone we emailed (and this is in Minneapolis, MN...which is not conservative, but it's not Greenwich Village either). I'm sorry that you had such an awful experience with this photographer, but I'm confident that you'll find someone whose photos you love just as much and who is excited to photograph your big day.
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  • alisonzalisonz
    100 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Are Vendors Allowed to Discriminate Against Doing a Same-Sex Wedding?:
    "are you available x date? how do you feel about teh gayz?" email.
    Posted by duhbeckster
    I love it!

    alison + irene | 10-10-10 | Studio 450

    My Big Fat Gay Wedding

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  • edited December 2011
    Every vendor we have reached out to we automatically include the fact that we are a same-sex couple. We may say something like 'is your establishment same-sex friendly?". So far we haven't gotten any "no", but maybe one or two never emailed back. IWe're happy to know NOW rather than later though.
  • sari5765sari5765
    10 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    One of the first photographers we contacted said he wouldn't be comfortable with the "intimacy" of a same sex wedding, We laughed it off, but it did sting. We talked about filing a compaliant with the BBB, but ultimately we decided we didn't want him to think that he had affected us- he was just a bitter homophobe who lost out on a potential client. Filing a complaint wasn't going to make him stop being a bigot, but it could give us a headeache, you know?
    check out our wedding blog at http://kellyandsari.com
  • edited December 2011
    we had a similar situation happen to us we went to see Gallery 56 in Memphis, TN. We went to see a location and told the owner when both my fiance and I met with her that this was OUR wedding, therefore a same sex wedding and asked her right then if she had a problem to let us know right then...she said no problem. Long story short when we called back to book the location she said she could not in "good conscience" rent the gallery to us!! We were shocked! but it didnt matter we didnt need her little gallery anyway. Our location is WAY better than the gallery could have ever thought of being! I know it is illegal and discrimination...but it really depends on how you want to handle it...Sorry that happend to you. It is really a shame that people are so hateful sometimes
  • edited December 2011
    A friend of mine asked a photographer at a wedding show if he would do a same sex wedding and he gave her a pretty tactless no. She was hurt at first but I really agree that you're better off just finding people who are really truly cool with it and instead of getting all squeamish and weird about it the day of and 'trying' to be cool with it and not giving you the best results. Or, not even trying and being a-holes and leaving you high and dry on the day of.

    The thing about doing a formal complaint is that it will discourage people who really aren't okay with it from telling you up front and that can end up making a big waste of time and/or money for you. Some of the vendors it's not that big of a deal but especially with a photographer, you want someone who you click with and who is into it. Otherwise it's going to show in your pictures.

    check here for photographers (and other vendors!) that will be a better match: http://www.soyoureengayged.com/vendor-list/photography/
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