A gay man’s wedding got off to a bad start after an Indiana florist refused to sell him flowers when she realized he was marrying another man.
On July 19, David Elliott went to Avon Florist in Avon, a town of 12,000 people about 20 miles outside Indianapolis, to order flowers for his upcoming nuptials. In a post on Facebook, he claims the owner was friendly enough—up until the point she realized it was a gay wedding.
“She said, ‘What does your bride need?'” Elliott alleged. “I said, ‘Well, there is no bride.’ Then she said, ‘Well, then I’m going on vacation and I can’t help you.'” He added that he took her response to mean “because of my relationship, she couldn’t help me out.” He added that the proprietor told his grandmother she was going on vacation.
According to RTV Channel 6, Avon Florist was closed on Saturday when reporters went to ask about the incident, despite the posted hours indicating it should be open. A man who later answered the phone told the station he had “no comment” about the alleged discrimination.
Elliott isn’t mad, but he says businesses that serve the public should be able to fulfill requests like his without their religious values getting in the way. “Everyone has their beliefs, and you can believe whatever you want to believe,” he wrote. “But if you’re working for the public and in the public, you should be able to set those aside for the public and for your job.”
“I’m not asking you to take any part in my life,” Elliott added. “Just do the job you are there to do.” Avon Florist’s Yelp page has been hit with negative reviews from users angered by the shop’s behavior.
“I hope you are asking if any of those weddings will feature shrimp at the reception,” reads one one-star review, “because you shouldn’t just pick and choose pieces of the Bible to base your business on.” A notice on the page indicates Yelp is monitoring it “for content related to media reports.”
But this Indiana florist isn’t the first business in the state to spurn gay customers: In 2015, the owners of Memories Pizza, announced he wouldn’t cater a same-sex wedding. (Memories eventually closed up shop, but not before earning $842,000 in a crowdfunding campaign.)
Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects businesses from having to provide services they oppose on religious grounds. The RFRA was signed into law by then-governor Mike Pence, but it stipulates that it couldn’t be invoked to discriminate against LGBT people.
Should businesses like this Indiana florist be allowed to turn away gay customers? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.