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Lesbian couple say photographers refused their wedding – after offering a contract

Lesbian couple say photographers refused their wedding – after offering a contract

Lesbian couple Karie Brown and Paul Fries

A lesbian couple from Charlottesville, Virginia says a pair of photographers refused to work their wedding because of their beliefs.

Paula Fries and Katie Brown are planning to wed in October. They spent hours and days searching for a photographer before they found Gardenia.

Brett and Alex Sandridge are the owners, operators, and photographers of Gardenia.

‘They were a somewhat newer company and had a few good reviews. I watched some of their videos and liked their work,’ Fries told CBS19.

Fries and Brown reached out to Gardenia and, with every other vendor, was immediately candid about being a same-sex couple.

‘I put that in every email correspondence I had with vendors we reached out to during this wedding process so they knew right off the back,’ Fries added.

CBS19 confirmed this in an email thread they obtained between the couple and Gardenia. At first, there was excitement between both parties.

Eventually, the Sandridges sent Fries and Brown a contract and an invoice for a down payment of $625. Hours after sending those assets, however, they sent a follow-up email.

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

They offered to send the couple’s information along to other videographers.

Fries posted a copy of the email on her Facebook page.

The email from Gardenia
The email from Gardenia | Photo: Facebook/Paula Fries

A true shock

People came to the couple’s defense and support after the story began making the rounds, and left the company negative reviews.

Fries and Brown further said they’re grateful to everyone, but are upset this happened.

‘It felt like the rug was pulled out from under us,’ said Brown. ‘As soon as they sent the contract and PayPal invoice, we closed out communication channels with everyone else.’

She continued: ‘It demonstrates to me the value system some people still have and it makes me so sad. It feels like we’re not on equal footing with heterosexual couples.’

The exchange comes soon after the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, in which the Supreme Court narrowly ruled for a baker who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding.

Since then, numerous courts have heard similar cases or refused to hear them at all, showing the prevalance of such cases in the US.

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