Dear gay or lesbian couple who wants to get married,
Congratulations on finding love. It's hard, you know, meeting a person who wants to be adventurous but will also play board games, a person who makes you laugh on a Wednesday night and isn't too proud to find the cheapest beer in town, a person who will grab milk from the store when you've had a long day at work and just want a bowl of cereal, a person who wears nice socks. Mutual care and attraction are these mysterious miracles that should always leave us in awe, and we're more than glad you've stumbled upon them.
Did a little research, though, and—spoiler alert—found out that not everyone's as excited for you as we are. If you thought searching for that person you want to spend the rest of your life with took longer than you'd have liked, thought slogging through the awkward dates and even more awkward break-ups was almost unbearable—just wait 'til you hear how hard it can be for gay and lesbian couples to pull together their big days. Pretty tough, turns out.
GLAAD has created a wedding check list, just for you, highlighting the challenges you may face when trying to plan even the most mundane elements of your wedding.
□ Cake: This February, Oregon-based Sweet Cakes Bakery owner Aaron Klein refused to sell a lesbian couple a wedding cake. "If I have to be penalized for my beliefs, then I'll let it be what it is," he said. Citing religious conviction, he said he'd rather be forced to close his business down than "be forced to do something that violates my conscience."
□ Dress: Cakes aren't the only trouble. After trying on a dress in a New Jersey bridal salon, lesbian bride Alix Genter was called by the shop owner and told her business was no longer welcome. When Donna of Here Comes the Bride in Somers Point saw that Genter had crossed out "groom" on an informational sheet and written, instead, "partner", she contacted Genter with her decision: "There's right and there's wrong," she said, "and this is wrong."
□ Flowers: Most recently, a beloved flower shop in Washington State, one that Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed had frequented for years, refused to do the flowers for their wedding after marriage equality passed in the November election. "I am sorry. I can't do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ," owner Baronelle Stutzman told the couple. Her shop has been open for almost forty years, and this is the first wedding she has declined.
□ Photographer: bring your own camera. Elane Photography is a New Mexico based company co-owned by Elaine Huguenin, a devout Christian woman who refused to photograph a commitment ceremony after realizing that the couple was gay.
And the list goes on and on:
□ Wedding venue: A Texas couple was denied a venue for their reception.
□ Honeymoon: Two men were asked to leave a Bed & Breakfast because of the owner's Christian beliefs.
□Filing the paperwork: A New York town clerk said she'd do everything in her power never to sign a gay or lesbian wedding license.
□Reception: The Boardwalk Pavilion—a public space run by the United Methodist Church in Ocean Grove, New Jersey—that banned same-sex couples from renting the property for a ceremony.
You get the point: the troll has moved from under the bridge to cake shops and bridal salons. While many local businesses are amazingly supportive of their LGBT clients, there are some people out there who are trying to sabotage your joy by hiding behind so-called "religious liberty" to legitimate their insensitivity, and a new report from Public Research Associates, released this week, documents this growing phenomenon. Fear not, dear lovebird—we're on to them. Baptizing discrimination does not make it holy.
As the Supreme Court of the United States prepares to hear marriage cases at the end of the month, GLAAD encourages you to get involved to show your support for legal equality for gay and lesbian couples. Check out glaad.org/marriage for more information, and to locate an event in your area. Finding love is hard. Celebrating it shouldn't be.