STEVE Sanders, above, an associate professor of law at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, said the lack of statewide LGBT protections has led to a glaring incongruity that leaves discriminated gay couples powerless to do anything to defend themselves.
The only recourse is good-old fashioned shaming – going on Facebook and telling their friends this is a discriminatory business and people might want to think twice about visiting.
This was precisely what Bailey and Samantha Brazzel did after they were denied service by Carter Tax Service, run according to biblical principles by its owner Nancy Fivecoate. She dismissed the the couple and told them to find an alternative tax service provider.
After the couple, above, exposed the owner’s bigotry on social media, Fivecoate – true to form in a growing number of cases like this – now claims to be the injured party, and has issued a statement denying homophobia:
On Tuesday, February 12, 2019 I had a client with an appointment come in to have her taxes prepared. I have prepared her taxes for several years. This year she came in 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.
For many years I have had several gay clients. I still have gay clients.
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.
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?
I am not trying to destroy them by dragging them through social media. Why are they trying to destroy my business? I have made no comment on social media. Where is their respect for me and my beliefs?
According to this report, the women wed in July 2018, and this was the first time Bailey Brazzel expected to file a joint tax return.
Bailey Brazzel said:
I didn’t go in there to talk about my marriage. I went in to file my taxes, that was it ― that’s all I wanted. I don’t need anyone to agree with my lifestyle or things that I do. But if you’re going to run a business, you should be able to work with all types of people.
The incident has made national headlines, partly because of where it happened. In 2015, Indiana was at the center of a media firestorm when then-Governor Mike Pence, now the Vice President, signed the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law.
Indiana’s RFRA allows business owners to cite their faith as a defence when sued by a private party, meaning they can legally discriminate against LGBT people.
The act was revised in the wake of the controversy so as to not interfere with local ordinances that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity. Since Russiaville does not have such anti-discrimination laws, Fivecoate can legally deny service to the Brazzels and other same-sex couples.
In the absence of legal recourse, the Brazzels said, they had no choice but to share their story on social media ― prompting Fivecoate to accuse of them of “trying to destroy” her business.
Bailey Brazzel said:
We don’t have an issue with her. We don’t think she’s a terrible person. All we really want is … to shed light on the fact that there aren’t any laws protecting the LGBT community from discrimination.
Brazzel’s father, William, who was with the couple during the rejection incident, said their treatment boiled down to just one thing:
Flat out discrimination. I just think it’s wrong I told her [Fivecoate] we all wake up and put on our pants the same way.