Lesbian couple turned away from PA bridal shop

Lesbian couple turned away from PA bridal shop

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The owner of a Pennsylvania bridal shop recently claimed that her faith precluded her from selling a dress to a same-sex couple. 

Shannon Kennedy and Julie Ann Samanas said the incident happened July 8 at W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg, about two-and-a-half hours north of Philadelphia. The West Pittston couple visited the shop in search of a dress for Samanas for the couple’s March 2018 wedding. 

“We filled out the form that said ‘Bride’s name,’ ‘Budget’ and then where it said ‘Groom,’ we crossed it out and wrote ‘Bride’ and put Shannon’s name down,” Samanas explained.

The couple, who were accompanied by Samanas’ sister, handed one of the two women who was working the form and, after reviewing it, she inquired if the dress was for a same-sex wedding.

“She said, ‘I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re Christian and we don’t believe in that; our faith doesn’t let us believe in that,’” Kennedy recalled. 

The women said they didn’t challenge the staff member and exited. 

“I think we were kind of in shock,” Kennedy said. “We all looked at each other and went, ‘Oo-k’ and walked out. It was unexpected. Afterwards, you think of everything you should have said.”

W.W. Bridal Boutique did not respond to a request for comment. 

The women posted about the incident on Facebook and tagged the store. In a July 11 post that has since been deleted, the store posted: ”The owners of W.W. Bridal Boutique reserve the rights afforded to them by the First Amendment of the Constitution to live out our lives according to our faith. ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ We will continue to serve our customers based on the tenets of our faith.”

Kenney and Samanas said they believe the operators of the store’s Facebook page have blocked them both. 

They said they have received a wealth of support on social media.

“I grew up about 20 minutes from there and I think about 90 percent of the people who commented were straight people I went to high school with, which is awesome,” Kennedy said. “We had about 300 shares of our post, and I think we only saw two negative things.” 

W.W. Bridal was embroiled in a similar situation in 2014, after the store owners, identified then as Victoria Miller and Jeremy Stabler, allegedly declined to schedule an appointment for a lesbian couple. Kennedy and Samanas said they recalled hearing about that incident but didn’t realize it was the same shop. 

Pennsylvania continues to lack a statewide LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination law; more than 40 municipalities have adopted their own nondiscrimination measures, though Bloomsburg is not among them. After the 2014 incident at W.W. Bridal, members of the Bloomsburg Town Council proposed asking the town solicitor to draft an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance, but after a community meeting that drew both support and opposition, voted 4-3 against moving forward with such a measure. The council did send a letter to the state legislature urging it to adopt statewide LGBT protections.

Bloomsburg Mayor Sandy Davis did not respond to PGN’s request for comment.

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