Evan Sernoffsk, San Francisco Chronicle
By Evan Sernoffsky
Updated 12:13 pm, Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Confronted over their decision not to take pictures at same-sex weddings, a Bay Area photography company opted to permanently put on its lens caps and shut its doors, according to a statement posted on the company’s website.
Urloved photography, a San Rafael husband-and-wife team, said it had recently referred a San Francisco gay couple to another photographer for their wedding photos because they “have different personal beliefs that we have difficulty with.”
“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,” a statement on urlovedphotography.com reads.
The incident is only the latest of dozens of recent national disputes between gay couples and businesses who deny service while claiming personal or religious freedom.
Last year in Oregon, a lesbian couple filed a discrimination complaint against a Portland-area bakery that refused to make them a wedding cake. In Iowa, a same-sex couple was denied a wedding venue because of the owner’s religious beliefs, KCCI-TV reported.
California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which provides protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, states that “all persons are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments, including both private and public entities.”
After being turned away by Urloved, one of the men, who asked to not be named, took the fight to Facebook.
“Great shots but this company denied me and my fiance, a same-sex couple, from their services. Stand up and say something about it,” he wrote Nov. 4 on one of the company’s postings.
The business owners, Nang and Chris Mai, apologized to the couple, then closed up shop after they said they were bombarded with nasty calls and e-mails.
“We have been flooded with hate calls, e-mails and accusations that inaccurately depict our business,” the couple wrote. “On top of that we have come to a difficult decision that we will no longer be in the wedding photography business.”
The couple did not return phone calls Monday.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco couple asked supporters to back off the outraged digital bombardment.
“(We) consider this issue resolved and would urge you to stop posting on their FB page, Yelp, and any other social media site,” one of the men wrote on Nov. 7 on Facebook. “Our friends, family, and the LGBT community/allies have all been amazingly supportive and active in helping to bring this matter to light. 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.”
Evan Sernoffsky is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @EvanSernoffsky
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