A videographer appears to be the latest individual to find herself at the center of controversy after reportedly refusing to offer her services for a same-sex wedding.
Jenn Moffitt and her partner Jerra Kincely claim that they reached out to Next Door Stories in Bexley, Ohio, last month to inquire about having their wedding filmed, but that they received a response that left them utterly "shocked," according to CNN.
"Unfortunately at this time I do not offer services for same-sex weddings," owner Courtney Schmackers purportedly said in an email response to the couple's inquiry.
Moffitt told CNN that she was stunned by the reaction and that she and Kincely had wanted to support the local business. She inevitably took to Facebook to write a post encouraging others to speak out against Schmackers over her refusal.
"When I took this blatant case of discrimination up with the Bexley Chamber of Commerce (of which Miss Schmackers is a member) they defended Miss Schmackers and her discriminatory ways, saying that her bigotry is just her 'business preference,'" Moffitt wrote in a March 6 post. "Had we been refused service because we were black or Jewish, Next Door Stories would be held accountable; but since we're just queers- no one cares. We are treated as second class citizens — in our very own neighborhood, community and city."
With few legal options to fight back, as the county doesn't ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, she said that the couple told their friends to spread the word and that people went to the Next Door Stories and Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook pages and left negative reviews.
"So many poor reviews in fact, that Courtney Schmackers of Next Door Stories felt it necessary to delete her ENTIRE review section altogether," Moffitt wrote. "Bexley area chamber of commerce has blocked me from contacting them as well as from posting questions to their page. But they haven't YET deleted their ratings section… in case anyone has thoughts to share with them."
She proceeded to share contact information for Next Door Stories' and the chamber of commerce, claiming that "word of mouth" is her only defense in fighting back against what she said was blatant "discrimination."
"We have a voice," she said. "Let's use it to stand up for equality — in this town and in every town."
It appears these efforts have paid off for the couple, as the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce consulted with an attorney in the wake of the controversy and — though they cannot do anything about the videographer's purported denial — the organization plans to implement a new prevention policy, announcing this measure in a recent Facebook post:
At our February 11 board meeting, we discussed in detail how the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce could ensure this does not happen again. The Chamber Board believes that discrimination in any form is wrong and should not be tolerated. At this meeting, the board agreed that our membership policy must be revised to reflect this. We began the process of re-writing our policies and guidelines. Our all-volunteer board continues to work diligently to examine how we can best implement a policy that forbids applicants and/or current members from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, gender, gender expression, age, ancestry, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or military status. As we revise this policy, we plan to seek input from our membership as well. We hope to have these new policies in place very soon.
The chamber of commerce added that it will "not tolerate discrimination" and that it plans to "be on the forefront of change."
The mayor's office also released a Facebook statement on March 13 letting the community know that the city is "concerned" over the issue and is welcoming of "individuals of ALL sexual orientation."
A voice message left for Schmackers was not immediately returned to TheBlaze.
In a Facebook message attributed to Schmackers, though, she reportedly wrote, "I made a business decision based on my spiritual beliefs and the biblical definition of a marriage because I thought I had a right to that. Unfortunately I gave the wrong answer to the wrong person, who decided to make a private issue into a public platform."
Read more about the story here.