A Montreal-area gay couple was shocked by a photographer’s refusal to shoot their wedding, citing religious objections. Now they’re receiving an outpouring of offers from other photographers, as well as advice to sue for unlawful discrimination.
“Anyone who knows me knows I’m relatively a nice person and would never be malicious … but being refused by a photographer to shoot my wedding because I’m gay hurt me a little,” Mike Cerantola wrote on his now-private Facebook page, calling out the photographer, Premiere Productions. “No sweat off my back. Gonna look for more, but raising awareness for others who are in the same Gay boat.”
Cerantola told CTV Montreal that he and his fiancé, Victor Rivas, were setting up a meeting with Giulio Granata, when Granata asked whether they would be shooting at the bride’s or groom’s house. “I mentioned that there’s only going to be one house, since we already live with each other, and I said, ‘There is no bride; we’re two guys.’”
Granata’s letter in response was a politely worded refusal of service: “Mike, I regret that I cannot photograph this wedding because it is at odds with my personal religious beliefs. I’m so sorry, and I hope you’re not offended. I do wish you success, and I hope you can find what you’re looking for.”
Whether or not Cerantola and Rivas were offended, Granata is in violation of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which has been in effect since 1977. “You cannot discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation, especially in the case of commercial business services available to the public,” Fo Niemi of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations told CTV. He recommended that the couple take legal action.
In the United States, while 23 states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, there’s still significant debate about what vendors can and can’t do. Though the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear the case of cake baker Jack Phillips, who wants to be able to refuse gay and lesbian customers, he is trying to take his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court. Some vendors, such as a cider mill in Michigan last year, have decided to stop holding wedding ceremonies altogether to avoid the conflict.
Premiere Productions has not yet responded to Yahoo’s request for comment. The company’s Facebook page has disabled posting on its wall, but comments on its pictures are largely negative in response to this story. “Here’s hoping they take you to court. Homophobia is not a good look for your so called ‘business,'” wrote Jennifer Owens.
There are others who felt this backlash was too harsh. “I see a lot of people throwing stones and speaking hate to this photographer,” wrote Ronda Keel. “Can you hear yourselves? You are doing exactly what. you are accusing him of, only your words carry poison. His did not.”
Meanwhile, on Cerantola’s post, several photographers have stepped forward to offer their services for the couple’s wedding, some even volunteering to shoot it for free.
“Mike and I touched beyond belief at the humanity you all have shown us,” Rivas wrote in a comment. “And I would like to personally thank you all for your candor and helpful information. Truly it’s heart warming. I have no words for the kindness you’ve all expressed all I can say is heart felt THANK YOU!”