Homophobic and transphobic wedding businesses make the news occasionally though the occurrences are much more often that don’t make the headlines. Such a story is brewing right now in Colorado. Again. And of course, God’s being dragged into it.

Friday night on Feb. 22 on Facebook I noticed a thread on a photographer’s feed about a Colorado videographer turning down a client’s wedding upon learning the couple was LGBTQ+, all based on this screenshot:

Wedding equality news: Denver videographer refuses to film LGBTQ weddings

 

The message of rejection was sent from Adam Snyder, sales executive at MediaMansion, Denver, Colorado, to Anna Suhyda.
“Hey Anna!
I just ran your wedding by my Boss, unfortunately at this time we are not serving the LGBTQ community

I hope you find an amazing videographer that can capture your day.

Best of luck,

[automated signature card]”

Anna screenshot the email and shared it on Instagram, writing, in part:
“So this was part of planning our wedding, unfortunate to be turned down by a company due to sexual orientation. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and opinions but it would’ve been nice to know this was the company’s point of view before having a phone meting just to receive this email.” And then she tags the company: @mediamansion.pro

One social media click and screenshot led to another, and suddenly Anna’s Instagram post was shared in a private Facebook group for photographers, and then it turned public.

From there, people started to join in from both sides, but not before people started saying they’d found MediaMansion on The Knot and mentioned all the nice reviews that it had. Because the Knot recently made the news for breaking ties with another anti-LGBTQ+ wedding company, the Facebook users were wondering if the Knot would do the same with MediaMansion, and tagged the Knot to get their attention.

A rep for the Knot commented and said she was going to investigate, as well as wanted to be completely clear that “The Knot doesn’t stand for discrimination.” This morning, I emailed The Knot as well, asking for an update, and they responded that, “We received several complaints this weekend about MediaMansion and are currently investigating directly with the couple and the vendor. On The Knot, we welcome all couples—no matter their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital, family, pregnancy status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran or citizenship status and any other characteristics protected by law—and stand by our core belief of inclusivity. We do not permit discrimination of any kind, by, to, or against our consumers, vendors, guests, or employees, and reserve the right to take actions, up to and including removal from the site, in response to any discrimination.”

The Knot’s always been gay-friendly and has evolved in its inclusive language. They’re friends of ours, I’m on The Knot Pro education team, and its cofounder Carley Roney wrote the cover blurb for my book. They have an outstanding reputation for their work for the LGBTQ+ community.

Recently, the company issued a formal statement that they’d cut ties with any vendor that violated their anti-discrimination policy. I’m certain they’ll make a good decision in this case, as well.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A message from our CEO @mikesteib: “Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a custom cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding. I want to take this opportunity to reiterate that our company supports everyone’s right to marry the person they love.  Period. Our terms of service on The Knot prohibit vendors in our marketplace from discriminating against couples based on their race, religion, or sexual orientation. When we learn that a vendor has violated these terms of service, we will remove the vendor’s storefront and refund his or her money. We love our couples, and all of our couples deserve a marketplace free of unfair prejudice.” #opentoall #loveislove

A post shared by XO Group Inc (@xogroupinc) on

Looking at the comments on Media Mansion’s page on the Knot, and it’s clear that people are angry with MediaMansion—and some are hoping The Knot will cut ties with the film company, as it did with this Texas venue earlier this year for discriminating against another LGBTQ+ couple.

LGBTQ+ wedding discriminationThe messages go on, but the one from Anna is what I found interesting and important:
2/22/2019
By Anna S
Leaving this review with 5 stars because I am not trying to bash the business, everyone is entitled to their opinions. I spoke to Adam about our wedding and after a 15min conversation in which I said my fiancé’s name is Amanda, I received an email back saying they don’t service LGBTQ weddings, so if that’s you look to another company that is more inclusive.

Since Anna left that comment, more negative reviews of the business have flooded the company’s page on The Knot. But what does it mean that Anna stood up for the business?

In the age of angry Internet mobs that can kill a business in a second, Anna has made it clear that her intent is not to “bash” MediaMansion but rather to let other LGBTQ+ couples know to look elsewhere for a more inclusive company. This is key to the story.

What do you think? Do you think companies who don’t want to work with LGBTQ+ companies should legally be able to turn us down? Comment below.

It’s hurtful and harmful to hear “no” based on who we are innately, which includes our sexual orientation or gender identity. And if we allow companies to do this, we allow further discrimination to spread, which leads to or supports already existing bullying of LGBTQ+ youth, resulting in the already exorbitant numbers of LGBTQ+ suicide.

Not missing a beat, ABC Denver news station Channel 7 investigated and interviewed Anna Suhyda and her fiancée, Amanda Broadway about what MediaMansion did, stating that the “Denver wedding videographer who refused to work with a same-sex couple is setting the stage for another conflict over religious beliefs and state anti-discrimination laws.”

Colorado has had trouble before with homophobic wedding professionals when Masterpiece Cake refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The couple sued in Colorado and won. Then it went to the Supreme Court and the baker won, but not because of his discriminatory acts but because of the way that the State of Colorado carried out the case.

The baker, Jack Phillips, shared that he would have made a cake for the couple for any other occassion but he couldn’t support a same-sex wedding.

MediaMansion has taken to the news to defend themselves now against cries of discrimination and released this statement on its Instagram account:

LGBTQ wedding discrimination
February 23, 2019

“To the LGBTQ community and to all others involved:

The email sent from Adam Snyder to Anna Suhyda on Feb 22, 2019 @ 1:24 PM did not communicate correctly our stance on the LGBTQ community. We would first like to apologize for the miscommunication and also provide further clarity into what Adam meant by what he said in the email.

A few things:

1. Adam is a talented & hard-working employee who respects and cares deeply about every individual. He was doing his best to follow the guidance of his employer while still treating Anna with respect.
2. Understandably so, there was hurt & confusion in the specific phrase that Adam said in his email, “At this time we are not serving the LGBTQ community!”

For clarification: MediaMansion is happy to work with people in the LGBTQ community! If a person who identifies as LGBT need a video for their growing business, a vlog, short film idea, etc., we’d love to assist. We simply do not film gay ceremonies or engagements. This decision is based on personal religious beliefs. We do not ask that you agree with our beliefs but only ask that you respect our beliefs.

3. We have respect and love for the LGBTQ community and are happy to refer them to friends or other vendors when we are not able to provide videography.

We again apologize for the miscommunication, and are thankful for you taking the time to listen and understand.

MediaMansion LLC

Does MediaMansion believe that one can equally respect and love the LGBTQ community yet refuse to film our weddings and engagements? Because I do not believe that these two beliefs can coexist. It is the equivalent of telling someone that you love them because they’re also a child of God and therefore you’ll be praying for them and their sins.

LGBTQ+ Denver couple discriminated against by wedding videographer
Anna Suhyda and Amanda Broadway | Photo via Denver7 News

According to ABC Denver news station Channel 7, Suhyda and Broadway have been together for almost four years plan to wed in June in Boulder, Colorado, and aren’t interested in bringing down the company. (I would argue that the company is bringing itself down.)

From ABC Denver news station Channel 7:
“I don’t want to cause division, I want to see unity,” Broadway told Channel 7’s Jaclyn Allen, who goes on to report that “when Suhyda reached out to a company rated highly on The Knot, Media Mansion, about their wedding video last week, all her planning came to an abrupt halt.

“He asked, ‘What’s your fiancée’s name?’ And I said, ‘Amanda.’ And I could tell he kind of paused on the phone, but I thought he was maybe jotting down notes,” said Suhyda. “Then I l got to work and looked at my email.”

“With an exclamation point,” said Suhyda. “Kind of like a punch in the gut.”

To make matters worse, on Media Mansion’s Facebook page, the owner posted a letter stating the company would by happy to work with the LGBTQ community on business videos, but not film “gay ceremonies or engagements,” citing “personal religious beliefs.” 

“I just thought Denver was different. You know, not that he is every business, but I didn’t think we’d have that here in 2019,” said Suhyda. “Our relationship shouldn’t affect anybody in a negative way. So, the fact that it gets turned into that is just upsetting.”

Meanwhile, Benjamin Hostetter, the owner of Media Mansion, said he is not discriminating against anyone, but has turned down more than one gay couple.

Since word has spread on social media, his rating on The Knot is plummeting (he is proud his company was named Best of Weddings 2019.)

“It really like just kind of exploded, and everyone just kind of assumed that we hate gay people, which is sad,” said Hostetter. “I have friends who are gay, and if they want to hang out and me to do a video for them, it’s totally cool. But specifically doing a project that would be against my beliefs in anything regardless of what the specifics of it is not something I want to engage in.”

Identifying himself as Christian, he said he is not judging anyone, but he is writing a book about “family, covenant, sex and marriage” and has strong beliefs about the covenant of marriage.

“I believe it has to do with family and producing healthy families,” said Hostetter. “I don’t think there’s a lot of good evidence out there that two men or two women can come together and have a really amazing effective family that is good and is everlasting.”

He sees this situation as similar to the Masterpiece Cakeshop controversy, a conflict between religious freedoms and state anti-discrimination laws.

For Suhyda and Broadway, this has tarnished some of their joy, but they’re determined not to let it steal it, focusing on their engagement, their wedding to-do lists and making their voices heard.

“Unfortunately, this came along, and I’m trying not to let it affect our mood or memories going forward,” said Suhyda. ”But if we can get something positive going forward or maybe some change, then maybe it was worth it.”

You know where we stand, readers. My wife and I launched Equally Wed, the international LGBTQ+ wedding magazine and directory of LGBTQ+ friendly wedding venues and vendors in 2010, and I wrote an LGBTQ+ wedding book Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding (Seal Press) as a response to the lack of resources available to the LGBTQ+ community when Maria and I were planning our own wedding in 2008. After receiving similar emails or, perhaps worse, silence on the other end of the emails I sent inquiring about servicing our same-sex wedding, we knew we needed to help get the word out about LGBTQ+ inclusive wedding and event professionals. Hence, our directory of vetted LGBTQ+ friendly wedding professionals. And now we’re rolling out a certification program to train wedding pros to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive at Equally Wed Pro.

This type of discrimination has got to end. There’s no excuse for it—and don’t even bring God into this. Because if God made anyone, then they made everyone. And everyone deserves love, respect, equality and the opportunity to marry who they love.

But where is the bridge? I think it’s education, which is why we’re launching a training program to teach wedding professionals how to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive. But for someone like Benjamin Hostetter, owner of  MediaMansion, the education is going to need to come more from seeing LGBTQ+ love in action, so I think we need to show it to him.

Denver7 reports that Hostetter shared: “It really like just kind of exploded, and everyone just kind of assumed that we hate gay people, which is sad. I have friends who are gay, and if they want to hang out and me to do a video for them, it’s totally cool. But specifically doing a project that would be against my beliefs in anything regardless of what the specifics of it is not something I want to engage in.”

“Identifying himself as Christian,” Denver7 reports, “he said he is not judging anyone, but he is writing a book about ‘family, covenant, sex and marriage’ and has strong beliefs about the covenant of marriage:

“I believe it has to do with family and producing healthy families,” said Hostetter. “I don’t think there’s a lot of good evidence out there that two men or two women can come together and have a really amazing effective family that is good and is everlasting.”

How can he claim he is not judging anyone and then turn around and do that very thing by claiming that LGBTQ+ couples cannot “come together and have a really amazing effective family that is good and is everlasting”?

What do you think, love champions?

Please send us your stories of your amazing effective families that are good and everlasting, dear readers. We would love to share them as a response to this company.

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