'We do not film homosexual weddings': Videographer denies Ont. brides service
MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- One bride, who is half of a same-sex couple turned down by both an officiant and videographer, hopes their story will start a conversation.
Kelly Roberts is set to marry Mallory Arthur in Oct. 2021 and the Woodstock, Ont. couple has recently begun planning the wedding, only to run in to roadblocks they didn’t expect.
First it was an officiant, who she had checked out online, but once they met in person said his religion wouldn’t support their marriage.
But it was the response from a Brantford, Ont. videographer, and the reason given for refusing their business, that has gone viral.
“It was just how she made it known to me that the only reason she would not work with me is because of my sexuality. And I think that's the part that just, it struck a nerve in me. I sat there and I was like she literally could have just told me she was already booked that day. And then I would have moved on. And that would have been that, but it was just that she had to make that point, that is what really hurt.”
Roberts says she shared the response only so others in the LGBTQ+ community would know that the company, Caramount Productions, was not supportive, but then it went viral.
“I don't know it just exploded so fast…the awareness that it's brought makes it worth it to me and I'm like I can't even put into words how touched and grateful I am for the literal outpouring of support that we've received.”
The social media accounts for the company involved have been taken down, after they were bombarded by negative comments and reviews.
Attempts to reach the company through those channels and by phone and email have gone unanswered.
Roberts says the aggressive response to the company is not something she wanted to happen, “but at the end of the day this issue is so much bigger than myself and my feelings that I feel like people need to see that, although it's 2020 and we've progressed so far that it's still happening.”
Same sex marriage became legal in Canada in 2005, and the Canadian Human Rights act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Susan Toth, a London, Ont. lawyer who deals with human rights cases, says while businesses are private they are ruled by human rights legislation.
“It does appear that the denial of service was specifically as a result of the sexual orientation of the couple, and if that is the case, it could, on its face, be in contravention of section 1 of the Ontario Human Rights Code, which guarantees service and equal treatment without discrimination based on a human rights protected ground, which includes sexual orientation.”
While there are exceptions for some wedding officiants and some special interest groups, Toth adds that this kind of situation is still happening too often.
“Unfortunately, I do see these issues on a regular basis, although often the discrimination is harder to prove as it is either systemic or more subtle, where it is clear that discrimination is occurring, but not explicitly stated.”
Roberts hopes people will talk about the situation, and how much this kind of rejection could hurt.
“What I'm hoping people take away from this is just the awareness of it happening and also the opportunity to people, maybe engage in a dialogue with their families and friends who may hold similar beliefs and maybe challenge those belief systems and challenge your thoughts a little bit.”
Roberts says the couple has since found a videographer they’re very happy with, and have been flooded with recommendations for other wedding providers that are supportive of LGBTQ+ weddings.
- With files from CTV Toronto's Sean Leathong