When Alix Genter tried to purchase a dress from the Here Comes the Bride bridal salon in Somers Point, New Jersey, all she left with was another example of just how sexual orientation discrimination can infiltrate even the most happiest of moments.
Though at first she was willing to help, when the store’s manager found out that Genter was marrying another woman, she called the couple’s pending nuptials an “illegal action,” ultimately refusing to sell her the dress of her dreams.
In reality, the only illegal action was that of the store.
Like many other states, including California, New York, Illinois, and Colorado, New Jersey bars sexual orientation discrimination in places of public accommodation.
Most statutes define public accommodations as places that are open to the public, such as a business, hotel, entertainment venue, restaurant, and doctor’s office.
Owners, managers and employees of these spaces are generally not permitted to deny, directly or indirectly, any service, benefit or privilege on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation.
This rule would ostensibly prohibit the bridal shop from denying Alix Genter a wedding dress because she intends to marry another woman.
Even if the shop’s manager does have a religious objection to the marriage.
In fact, most courts have found that enforcing these sorts of anti-discrimination laws does not run afoul of a person’s religious rights, and most states only provide an exception for bona fide religious institutions.
So regardless of how you feel about Alix Genter and her choices, as a business owner, it is your responsibility to be aware of your state’s sexual orientation discrimination laws, and to abide by their word.
Related Resources: Store Refuses To Sell Wedding Dress To Lesbian Bride (Jezebel) Gay and Lesbian Rights / Sexual Orientation Discrimination (FindLaw) Discrimination in Public Accommodations (FindLaw) Avoiding Discrimination Complaints at Your Business (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)