COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two lesbian women in Ohio have filed a complaint with their local Chamber of Commerce after a Christian videographer declined to record their commitment ceremony, and now the chamber is vowing to revise its policies to prohibit members from turning down orders related to homosexuality.
Jenn Moffitt and Jerra Kincely sent an email to the business Next Door Stories last month out of their search to find a videographer to record their commitment ceremony. But as owner Courtney Schmackers is a Christian, she politely advised the women that she could not accommodate their request.
“Unfortunately at this time I do not offer services for same-sex weddings,” she replied, “but thank you for your inquiry!”
Same-sex “marriage” is not legal in Ohio, and there are no local prohibitions against declining a particular business order for conscience reasons.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Moffitt told CNN in regard to Schmackers’ response. “It is a small business, and I thought this was a tight knit community. We wanted to support local commerce and to get that kind of response was astounding.”
Therefore, Moffitt and Kincely contacted the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce to lodge a complaint. The Chamber now states that as a result, it is in the process of re-writing its policies to prohibit members “from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, gender, gender expression, age, ancestry, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or military status.”
“The Chamber Board believes that discrimination in any form is wrong and should not be tolerated,” the board wrote in a letter to its existing members. “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.”
Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler has also publicly come out against Schmackers as well.
‘Understandably, the community is concerned about a … Bexley based business, in which the private business in question has reportedly denied a service based on sexual orientation,” he wrote. “The City is concerned as well. We are proud of our community’s welcoming environment and encourage mutual respect and inclusivity.”
While Schmackers is declining media requests at this time, she did post an explanation on Facebook in light of her Christian faith.
“I made a business decision based on my spiritual beliefs and the biblical definition of marriage because I thought that I had a right to that,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, I gave the wrong answer to the wrong person, who decided to make a private issue into a public platform and now I am fully experiencing the consequences. I am sorry you had to be exposed to it, and I’m open to any and all conversation regarding it.”