SAN FRANCISCO — A California couple has decided to shutter their photography business rather than be forced to shoot same-sex “wedding” ceremonies.
Nang and Chris Mai operate Urloved Photography–that is, until recently, when the couple announced that it was discontinuing its business due to harassment from homosexual advocates over making a referral rather than agreeing to shoot a same-sex ceremony.
“[W]e have come to a difficult decision that we will no longer be in the wedding photography business,” the Mai family writes on their website. “We are grateful for this experience as it has caused us to think about how our personal beliefs intersect with our business practices.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, earlier this month, San Francisco resident T.J. Kelsall posted a comment on the company’s Facebook page stating that Urloved Photography had declined to photograph him and his partner, Thai Lam.
“Great shots, but this company denied me and my fiance, a same-sex couple, from their services,” he wrote. “Stand up and say something about it.”
According to the Mai’s, the couple rather referred Kelsall to another photographer that they thought would be more suitable as they personally were not comfortable with agreeing to the request themselves.
But the couple also states that following Kelsall’s complaint, the company has been “flooded with hate calls, emails and accusations that inaccurately depict [their] business.”
“As wedding photographers, we directly take part in capturing a couple’s love and commitment for each other. We take the medical doctor stance of if we were emergency room doctors we would want to give our best to anybody that comes through our door. It is not photographing a couple who have different personal beliefs that we have difficulty with,” they wrote in their closure announcement.
“We genuinely felt referring this couple to a photographer who does share their personal beliefs would provide them with the best service for their special day,” the Mai’s continued. “We wanted to connect them with someone who did share their personal beliefs so that they could give them the service quality they deserve.”
Following the announcement, Kelsall wrote a second post asking friends to stop contacting the Urloved Photography and writing negative reviews and comments on their various online pages.
“They acknowledged that if this were pursued any further it wouldn’t fair well for Urloved Photography,” he wrote. “They understand the law and told us they have decided that in light of their personal beliefs they will be shutting down their business.”
“Thai and I consider this issue resolved and would urge you to stop posting on their FB page, Yelp, and any other social media site,” Kelsall continued wrote, but praised those who had been “supportive and active” thus far. “We must respect that Nang and Chris have decide to shut down their business because of their beliefs. I wish the outcome could have been different, but it is what it is.”
A similar situation has been making its way through the court system for the past six years, as Elane Huguenin and her husband Jon, who run Elane Photography in Albuquerque, New Mexico were turned into the New Mexico Human Rights Commission for declining to shoot a lesbian ceremony. As previously reported, the case was fought all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the matter.
“The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life,” wrote Justice Richard Bosson for the New Mexico Supreme Court. “That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”
It is not yet known whether the Huguenins will be pursuing further legal action to protect their right of conscience as business owners.
Photo: Urloved Photography