A florist pretended she was going “on vacation” to avoid serving a gay couple, it has been alleged.
David Elliott says he and his partner are set to get married in just a few weeks, and had been seeking a florist in Avon, Indiana, to serve the wedding.
But he alleges that the owner of Avon Flowers refused to serve the pair once she discovered the wedding was for a gay couple.
Elliott said: “I went in to look at flowers for my upcoming wedding. I was told to speak with the owner. When she came forward she asked me the date of my wedding. I told her and she said that was fine. I told her the flowers I would like.
“She then asked what the bride would like. I replied there isn’t one. She then told me she would have to pass.”
He explained to LGBTQ Nation: “She only declined after I told her there was no bride.
“I told her I needed flowers for my wedding and the date. She said ‘okay.’ I then said I needed two boutonnières and she said, ‘What for the bride?’
“I said there isn’t one and she said, ‘Oh, I’m going on vacation.’ She was only going on vacation after she knew there was no bride.
“I fully understand that everyone has their right to believe what they want. If you are open to the public….. serve the public. I’m not asking you to take any part in my life. Just do the job you are there to do.”
Elliott said he doesn’t plan to take any further action, but wants people to know what happened.
But the owner Rita Harris denies that she discriminated.
Harris said: “What I said to him was that it conflicted with a vacation I have planned and I wasn’t taking any more orders at this time.
“I’m not planning to take any more weddings requests because I’m planning to retire.”
The florist has been barraged with one-star reviews after the allegations.
Indiana is famously the home state of Vice President Mike Pence, who opposes discrimination protections for LGBT people.
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While serving as Governor of Indiana, Pence stirred up international outrage in 2015 when he signed Indiana’s controversial ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’, giving businesses the right to discriminate against gay people on the grounds of religion.
Pence claimed the law was intended to “protect” organisations from having to provide services for same-sex weddings, saying: “I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier [Indiana citizen] of every faith.
“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack.”
After fury over the bill’s anti-LGBT provisions, an amendment was quickly passed weakening the provisions that allow businesses to openly discriminate.
Pence, meanwhile, appeared unable to answer when asked whether it should be legal to fire people because of their sexuality after the row.
In an interview, Pence was asked: “Yes or no: do you believe gay and transgender people should be able to be fired from their jobs just for that reason only?”
After an awkward ten-second silence, Pence attempted to stall, responding: “It’s a great privilege to be your Governor.”
He eventually said: “My position as I expressed in the state of the State address is that we are a state with a constitution, and as you know… that constitution has very strong safeguards for freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.”
There is no state-wide LGBT anti-discrimination law in Indiana, and only four counties enforce local-level protections.