Spend $157, Get Over $5,500 in Photography Products Now

Same-Sex Couple Speaks Out After Wedding Videographers Pull Out, Citing 'Beliefs'

A same-sex couple have spoken out to their local news outlets after a pair of Charlottesville-based wedding videographers refused to work with them after learning their sexual orientation.

Paula Fries and Katie Brown spoke to CBS19 about their struggle to find a wedding videographer, saying they landed on Gardenia, a husband and wife wedding team operated by Brett and Alex Sandridge, after watching some of their videos and enjoying their work. Fries and Brown claim they were upfront with anyone who would potentially be working on their wedding about it being same-sex, saying it was “in every email correspondence with vendors.” So, it came as a surprise when, having already been sent a contract and an invoice for a down payment, the couple received a further emailing notifying them that there’d been a change of plans.

The email from Brett Sandridge cancelling Gardenia’s involvement in the wedding read in part:

We have decided that we would not be the best match to film your wedding. We are just really wanting to stay true to our beliefs.

Understandably upset, Brown added that one of the most frustrating parts had been that the couple ceased communication with all of the other potential wedding videographers they had been looking to book after the initial interest from Gardenia. Gardenia’s Facebook page has since been deactivated after a backlash that saw users leaving negative reviews.

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused a pair of customers for being gay, citing his religious beliefs.

Log in or register to post comments

292 Comments

Studio 403's picture

hmm, a "struggle" to find a photographer for their wedding? The word struggle, if used as a verb, I found a tad of an overstatement. However, I would shoot them. However, no one has a right to my service's. I question the wisdom of this post knowing many folks have different values. I want to make money. I do empathize with their plight, It may take a new generation of folks to see more clearly.

michaeljin's picture

You're correct that nobody has a right to your services, but there's a pretty fine line between allowing private businesses the choice to turn down potential clients and allowing private businesses to engage in discriminatory practices. I think the real backlash in these stories comes from the question of which groups ought we to be protecting from discrimination and what, if any, solutions are there to reconcile our desire to prevent discrimination with our desire to respect peoples' personal beliefs.

It's a pretty complicated question and I think that in the end, there's really no way to embrace both 100%. Given the fact that society and government are secular (separation of church and state and such), if we're to lean one way, it should be toward protecting the rights of consumers looking to engage in business rather than protecting the ability to deny services based on religious beliefs. The former is far easier and more reasonable to enforce than the latter given the fact that you can certainly have people in this world that hold truly held religious beliefs that say that black people are the devil or that witches should be burned at the stake...

Just my two cents.

Guilherme Checchia's picture

I always look at this from the "free market" perspective: If they don't want to work for this couple, another person will.

As to discrimination, I think it's really complicated... Are you discriminating against muslins and jews because all the plates in your restaurant have pork?

Or those gyms that only accept women are discriminating against men?

Again, if you don't want to serve someone because of your religion, sex, marketing strategy, belief, political view, etc.....someone else will and that's ok.

The only problem I see in the case of this article is the fact that they accepted and later on cancelled, leaving the couple without a videographer for their wedding.... That was not professional

Deleted Account's picture

The problem with making it illegal to discriminate based on religious beliefs is that it will allow businesses to get away with it anyways by citing some other made up reason like "I'm busy that weekend"

While I don't agree with the values the photographers own towards the LGBT community, I think it's better for everyone to have the business miss out on revenue. There's going to be someone who doesn't care about their sexuality who can provide services. Why would you want someone who has hate in their hearts to document one of your most important days? I'd never trust them.

Deleted Account's picture

"Hate"? Did you not read their letter? I do think, however, they will be far better off with someone who will share their feelings about the event.

michaeljin's picture

On the one hand, I am of this mindset that a free market should balance things out, but given where you are in the USA, there might be a LOT of places that might not want to offer service to certain people groups such as homosexuals, Mulsims, Hispanic people, etc. When discrimination is widespread or institutional, there may not be an adequate number of service providers to cover the need.

Deleted Account's picture

It's also a perfect opportunity for someone in their own community to create a photography business. It wouldn't be an immediate fix to the couple in the articles issue but demand has now been created and someone is likely to recognize it and want to make an income from it.

Deleted Account's picture

I probably shouldn't have used the word "hate" but you should be able to use deductive reasoning to see what the point of my comment was.

Dennis Johnson's picture

there is,
- i am pro gay marriage, i love working with you
- i dont mind gay marriage, i will do the work.
- i do mind gay marriage its against my core beliefs, i refuse to work with you.

and hate
- i hate gay marriage, i will break your skull with my tripod if i see you kiss at the altar. (fill in red hate filled crazy eyes and devil face)

Dont use hate when somebody has different beliefs.

personally wouldn't mind doing a gay wedding, i would mind a grown up guy marrying a child like that article from last week and that turkish photographer.

Deleted Account's picture

I don't know what that other article has to do with this but ok...

Again... "Hate" was a poor word choice which I already conceded. Enjoy your unnecessary victory lap.

Duane Klipping's picture

Typical liberal thinking. If you don't agree with their beliefs you are in turn labeled as a hater or a racist. So tired of politically correct crap.

Deleted Account's picture

Ironic... People who are more liberal than you (don't agree with you) are "insert blank label". You're just a playing the same card from the other side of the table....

You obviously didn't read the discussions from my comment you're posting on.

Dennis Johnson's picture

stop your intolerant racist attitude snowflake, makes you look stupid and isnt very constructive.

Deleted Account's picture

It took you months to come up with this?

Mark Davidson's picture

Sure it's a struggle. Many photographers suck.

Maicol Osorio's picture

The problem is they signed a contract and made the down payment. Before there was even a contract, Gardenia knew they were a same sex couple, so then why continue negotiations and sign a contract? At the beginning you could have said you feel they are not the right fit and could recommend someone else, but Gardenia entered into a binding contract, took money and then broke that contract.

Bokeh Master's picture

read again- nowhere in the article it states that they took money. They only supplied a contract and invoice for downpayment to confirm they contract. The videographer withdrew before that happened.

at least read and understand before jumping the guns

Luke Adams's picture

It's not an easy situation for either side. On the one hand, it sucks that the couple had to go back to square one with regards to finding a videographer. On the other hand, the photographers were courteous in their eventual decision to pass on the wedding. You may hold beliefs that this is horrible behaviour on the part of the photographers, and yet, if one has sincere convictions before God, forcing people to morally betray those beliefs is also a horrible thing. I view wedding photography as a service rendered - not an affirmation of the wedding, yet I sympathize with those who can't betray their conscious by accepting payment derived from the event. And before you disagree with that last statement, ask yourself, would you shoot a child-bride wedding - even in a society where it's morally acceptable? How about a Satanic themed wedding? How about someone who wants to marry their pet? Your moral compass may differ from this couple, but these beliefs go back long, long before society started coming around to same-sex marriage in the 80's and 90's. So, while an unfortunate situation, it's also unfortunate about the apparent stones being hurled in the photographer's direction because they refused to change their pre-existing, God-given convictions because society decided they should.

Deleted Account's picture

Well put Luke.

Timothy Linn's picture

Eloquently said, Luke.

michaeljin's picture

If you're in a service industry, I think that part of being in that industry is getting over the fact that you might morally disagree with the people whom you are servicing, but being a professional means putting your personal opinions on the matter aside to do the job. Obviously the situation is different if something is blatantly illegal, which it is not in this instance.

The freedom to refuse service is a tricky thing. On the one hand, I can understand refusing service to a person on the grounds that you think that they are offending you. On the other hand, a big question goes to WHY you feel offended by that person. If you feel offended by that person because they are treating you like trash it's one thing. If you feel offended by that person because you have an honest belief that they are an abomination that shouldn't exist because of some sort of genetic condition, however, I would be absolutely horrified at the thought of us as a society letting such an excuse pass as acceptable.

Of course there will always be the question of, "Well, if this person doesn't like you that much, do you even want to be patronizing their establishment anyway?", but the precise reason we had to go through the process to come up with laws to actively prevent discrimination is because it is entirely possible for discrimination to be widespread enough to be problematic to the minority groups that are suffering from it. People shouldn't have to be forced to move or have numerous services cut off from them just because of who they happen to be.

Deleted Account's picture

I think you're overstating the objection of most Christians. They don't necessarily believe the couple is an abomination, destined for hell. Most simply don't want to participate, in any way, with the ceremony.

michaeljin's picture

I guess my question would be "where do we draw the line, then"? I get that someone might morally disagree with something and they don't want to take part. Would you be cool with a photographer who refused to photograph an interracial wedding ceremony because they held honest beliefs that interracial marriage is wrong? Are you OK with Christian photographers who take headshots for actors and actresses who have dreams of going to Hollywood—the same Hollywood that everyday promotes and glamorizes some very counter-Christian values? Is being a headshot photographer for actors also supporting objectionable lifestyles?

Put yourself on the other end of it. How would you honestly feel if certain people started telling you, "Oh, you're Christian? You can't eat here." or "Oh, your wedding is happening in a church? I disagree with that so I'm not going to do business with you."? Sure, there's a chance that you might be someone who actually doesn't care and would just move on with your life and find someone that WILL work with you, but not everyone is like that and in this case, Christians are a dime a dozen so it's not that big of a deal. Most people, however, would feel a tinge of emotional pain at the thought of that occurring and as situations like that mount over and over again throughout the course of your life, you might actually start to experience genuine hurt and frustration.

As a Christian, do you want to live in a society that says "No, I'm not going to bake a cake for you because you're Muslim." or "No, I'm not going to take photos for you because you're a Jew."? I may not agree in principle with people living a homosexual lifestyle, but I can suck it up and at least have the respect and courtesy to treat others the way that I would like to be treated. I wouldn't want any part of my life be it my race, religion, nationality, the school I went to, etc. to determine whether or not people would be willing to do business with me so why on earth would I then subject other people to this?

Then again, everyone has different visions for how the world ought to be, don't we?

Anonymous's picture

The main difference, however, is that a person’s religion is a choice. Their sexuality is not. :)

michaeljin's picture

Ugh.. that's a rabbit hole that I did NOT want to go down because despite science and research and stuff (you know, all of those rational things), you're not very likely to convince the greater Christian community otherwise. That's another thread by itself. >.<

Anonymous's picture

I know. I just had this can of gasoline I wasn’t using and wanted to throw it on the fire!

Deleted Account's picture

People also have no choice but to be selfish, greedy, short tempered, angry, gluttonous... Well, you get the idea.

Anonymous's picture

Huh? You have no choice but to be angry and gluttons? I have no idea what you’re talking about

Deleted Account's picture

People are born with those tendencies. It's "natural" so it's all good, right? :-/

I've never understood the "they're born that way" argument. If that's the case, and I absolutely don't agree it always is, their actions (not predispositions) are subject to moral judgment. Consider a pedophile: countless studies indicate, they're just that way. Do they get a "morality" pass?
As for their being born with it, that sounds like an excuse, indicating an admission homosexual behavior is wrong. Furthermore, it reduces *all* practitioners to being the same. How naive is that?

And so, we've arrived at the only question that matters: "Is homosexuality wrong?"

I would argue, in some cases it is, being the result of unnatural lust. In other cases, it's merely not helpful. Keep in mind, this is from a Biblical POV and you, and others, are welcome to your own conclusions.

Anonymous's picture

Yeah I really have no desire to engage with this perversion of morality. You are free to have your opinion. Let’s leave it at that.

Deleted Account's picture

In that case, there was no need to reply. smh

Anonymous's picture

I didn’t want to be rude and not acknowledge your comment. Jeez.

Deleted Account's picture

But calling my sense of morality, "perverse" isn't rude? ;-)

It's unfortunate this topic has gone so far astray. I think we can all agree it was stressful for all involved. I honestly have no idea how to deal with these kinds of situations and just one of many reasons I won't shoot weddings, even knowing it won't be an issue.

Anonymous's picture

It's my belief. Please respect it. Just as you believe homosexuality is a sin, I belief your belief is perverse.

Deleted Account's picture

;-)

Rick Pappas's picture

The pedophile thing....ah...no. There is a difference between predatory behavior with a child and consensual behavior between grown individuals. I know you zealots like to throw the pedophile thing around, but "No cigar..."

Deleted Account's picture

I wasn't trying to equate the actions or consequences. Yeah, I agree they're not the same thing. I was simply talking about getting a pass from moral judgment. You'll also note, I didn't make any judgment.

Kolade Agunbiade's picture

Errrhhhh, not a choice as in biologically or feelings? Seems like a choice to me... There's even a group that doesn't want to "choose" a sex.

Anonymous's picture

Do you choose to be attracted to women? And equally, have you had to make a conscious decision not to be attracted to men? If the answer is no, then it's not a choice. If the answer is yes, then you are probably homosexual or bisexual.

Kolade Agunbiade's picture

Yo, I didn't know I was alive till I was 2 or 3 ish... So don't mention anything about "born this way". Why I am attracted to women, I may not know but I also don't know I was born that way. This topic cannot be based on that. It's a loop hole that is being exploited. What I'm sure of is that I was born male and that's because of pictorial evidence.

Kolade Agunbiade's picture

Lool, just realised you mentioned nothing about "born this way". Give me another 2hrs

Kolade Agunbiade's picture

Discrimination is always bad, yes true.. I would definitely shoot a muslim couple or a Buddhist... Why not gay? It really doesn't matter if it's a choice or not. My bad.

Anonymous's picture

Cool. No worries

Anonymous's picture

BTW I assume you meant "photograph" when you wrote that you would "definitely shoot a muslim couple or a Buddhist." Just want to make sure you don't plan on murdering anybody, lol

Kolade Agunbiade's picture

🤣 lool, meant "Photograph"

Deleted Account's picture

As a Christian, I can assure you, a lot of people do things I don't like and treat me, and others, in the most horrible of ways for the least reason or no reason at all.

Rick Pappas's picture

That's 99% B.S. When were you last denied a service because of your Christianity? When was the last time a group of kids followed you home and beat the crap out of you because you were Christian? When you were in school, how many kids taunted you in the hallways calling you "Jesus Freak"? How often have you heard off color jokes about Christians.

And, if any of those had happened to you, would that give you a reason to support discrimination against other human beings? You should be ashamed... Turn the other cheek.

Deleted Account's picture

I don't believe the actions, or rather inactions, of the videographers rise to the level of discrimination. You're free to disagree.

I have no desire to disclose my experiences, or those of others, with anyone. While I don't care, it might identify me and thereby compromise the privacy of others involved. It's immaterial. On a more impersonal note, the stories of Christians taking abuse in other parts of the world are many and varied. In the U.S., it's much more recent and typically not nearly so bad.

Edit: BTW, I was just out there and spent time driving down Highway 1 and in the Bay area. It was close between that and Yosemite but maybe next time.

Quincy Fivelos's picture

A friend of mine is gay and a Christian. For him there's a huge difference in who you are (gay) and what actions you take or decisions you make (sex with another man, marrying another man). He lives a celibate life. To him, having sex with another man, something that he desires but believes the Bible speaks against, is similar to a married woman having sex with a man other than her husband. He believes that her desire to have an affair with another man is just as strong and just as sinful as his desire for sex or a relationship with another man.

He's not perfect and has slipped on a few occasions "just as all Christians sin". He, and I think this goes for many Christians that I've known, view slipping up as vastly different from embracing something that they believe is sinful. Slipping up, sinning, is one thing but committing to marrying another man, embracing sin, is totally different.

Similarly, for many Christians there is a difference in serving a gay couple in a café and participating in their wedding. Serving food to them in a café has nothing to do with the fact that they are gay and for most Christians is not an issue*. Participating in a wedding that is celebrating something that the gay couple believe in but that Christians (and Muslims and Jews and most other religions that have been around for more than a few years) do not require the Christian (or Jew, Muslim, etc.) to violate their beliefs.

More comments