A lesbian couple in Indiana were turned away from a local tax business, because the Christian owner objected to them filing joint taxes as a married couple.
Samantha and Bailey Brazzel had approached Carver Tax Service in Russiaville, Indiana, to file their first joint tax return since their wedding in 2018.
But the newlywed couple were left stunned when the business owner, who had filed Bailey’s individual taxes for several years, refused to take their custom.
Indiana lesbian couple were shaken by discriminatory incident
Speaking to the Kokomo Tribune newspaper, Bailey Brazzel said: “At first we thought she was kidding, but when she started talking about the Bible, we knew she was serious… and I was completely shocked.”
“You hear about it all the time, but nothing like this has happened to us before.
“She had done my taxes with no issues before, but now that we were married and she didn’t agree with my life choices, she wouldn’t.”
Brazzel said that she and her wife were shaken by the incident, adding: “My wife was trying to console me and I was crying.”
Indiana business owner: As a Christian I could not prepare their taxes
Nancy Fivecoate of Carter Tax Service told the newspaper: “[Bailey] came with her wife and I declined to prepare the taxes because of my religious beliefs,
“I am a Christian and I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. I was very respectful to them. I told them where I thought she might be able to get her taxes prepared.”
Fivecoate said it was not the first time the issue had come up.
She said: “A few years ago, I had a couple of gay clients that married.
“When it was time to prepare their taxes they called me and asked if I had a problem since they were married.
“I told them that as a Christian that I could not prepare their taxes. I thanked them for calling and wished them well.”
She added: “The LGBT want respect for their beliefs, which I give them… I did not say anything about their lifestyle. That is their choice. It is not my choice. Where is their respect for my beliefs?”
There is no statewide LGBT+ anti-discrimination law in Indiana, and federal law does not ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, meaning the couple have little recourse over the incident.
The state’s former Governor, Vice President Mike Pence, signed a religious freedom law in 2015 that bolstered ‘freedom to discriminate’ protections for religious business owners in Indiana, though it was subsequently watered down after criticism from businesses.