The Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling last Friday was a huge step forward for civil rights, but even from a purely capitalist perspective, it was still a win. Think of all the wedding-service providers who now have a lot of potential new clients. So it really shouldn't have been much of a surprise when Clinton Brentwood Lee, a St. Petersburg photographer who specializes in weddings, updated his company's profile picture and header image Friday to celebrate the decision.
A rainbow filter was applied to the company's logo, and a new header image, showing couples of various orientations kissing, was accompanied by the phrase "All we see is love."
But this is Florida, and naturally there was a homophobe in the wings ready to spoil the show of support.
After posting the images, Lee says, he received a message from an angry client who wanted to cancel her contract with Brentwood to photograph her upcoming wedding.
Greetings Brentwood. We would just like to inform you we will NOT be using your services for out wedding. My fiancé and I support traditional marriage between a man and a woman and don’t want our money going to places that supports otherwise. Secondly I would like to inquire about how we can get our retainer back from you. Thanks.
Lee replied, informing the client that due to the signed contract, he can't return her retainer, but he will make a donation to GLAAD in her name:
Wow, I’m not really sure what to say here. I would say this disappoints me, but I actually find this to be a good thing because our company now would now not like to work with you as well.
It’s not that because you have a different view from us, but it’s because, since you don’t like and support gay marriage, no one else should be able to have it. That’s like me not liking broccoli, and demanding that everyone else in the world should not have broccoli either! If you’re not in favor of gay marriage that’s fine, don’t marry a woman.
Personally, I was taught not to judge others and to love everyone else. So I will try not to judge you here and say anything more as to my opinion of you.
At Brentwood Photography we see love in all forms. Now as far as your retainer goes, I hope you’ll read the first article in the contract you signed stating that this retainer is nonrefundable.
But don’t you worry, I’m not going to keep it!
Because of this conversation, I have decided to donate your $1500 to GLAD [sic] [the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation], a group created to help and support gay rights.
So let me be the first to say [redacted], thank you very much for your donation and support for this great cause!
I couldn’t have done it without your money.
Sincerely and with Love,
Then the photographer posted the exchange on Facebook and Instagram.
The business reply heard 'round the world! Lol I hope in the scheme of life this isn't the one thing I am known for but I am happy I took a stand. The only thing I wish I had changed on this photo screen shot is where it says I support "Gay Marriage". While I 100% do, I wish I had just said that I support marriage opportunity for all. We shouldn't have to call it "gay marriage" like it is something different. It's just marriage. Like it is between a man or a woman or a black person and a white person. Ever person on this planet deserves their own happy ever after, even if it is different from your view of it. Don't like "gay marriage" that's cool, don't get "gay married"! But don't try to stop a company who believes everyone deserves to be happy. PLEASE NOTE: Yes I realize I could have handled this differently or more professionally, but I have always been known to be an artist with freely expressed feelings and my uniqueness. I will never stop being me. I will continue to love everyone. #loveislove #love #marriage #lgbt #glad #lovewins #standup #pride #istandwithyou #kcco www.BrentwoodPhotography.com
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Oh, but it didn't stop there. Lee tells BuzzFeed News that the client's reply was far from polite:
Wow really? F*#k YOU!!! Companies like yours are the reason our country is falling apart! Supporting these people and groups like you're doing only further their agenda and are slowly ruining this once great country and destroying families. Certainly happy we chose not to do business with you. Good luck with queers... ASSHOLE! [Frowning purple devil emoji.]
The entire exchange has now gone viral.
"I think it’s truly beautiful the amount of positive messages and words of encouragement I have received; it has been about 90 percent positive and 10 percent gut-wrenching, sad personal attacks,” Lee tells BuzzFeed News. “The hate that comes out of these people’s mouths make me want to cry, but the 90 percent give me the strength to stay strong and not doubt what I did.”