The refusal came on Monday, 15 years to the day after Canada legalized same-sex marriage on July 20, 2005.
“I say this very carefully because I know your union is extremely important to you, but we don’t film same-sex marriages,” Cara Hamstra, the owner of the company, wrote in an email.
‘My heart just collapsed’
Arthur was shocked. “She was so direct about it that she didn’t even try to cover it up,” she said.
“When I opened the email, my heart immediately collapsed. I had a stomach ache, ”said Roberts. “It was so blatant what she said. And usually people will try to dance around it.
CBC News has reached out to Hamstra for comment but has not received a response at the time of publication.
The couple had a similar experience in February.
Roberts said after meeting a wedding officiant at a local Tim Hortons donut store, he said he would not marry the two women.
“Mallory was grabbing us a coffee, and as she sat down and he realized it was two women, he said his beliefs didn’t support our marriage and that it would be avoided by the church. he married us, ”she said.
When it comes to refusing to officiate a marriage, the Ontario Human Rights Code provides exemptions for religious leaders.
Human rights and law
Susan Toth, lawyer in London, Ontario. – about 55 kilometers southwest of Woodstock – said denying service to someone because of their sexual orientation was a human rights violation.
“If a private organization specifically identifies sexual orientation as the basis for denying a private service, it would violate [Ontario] Human Rights Code, ”Toth said.
“There are exceptions for special interest organizations, such as church clubs or schools, but that wouldn’t normally extend to a private company. “
In one case, a private Christian organization was allowed to ban a young student from enrolling in their school because the parents were same-sex married. The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal upheld the group’s decision because the school fell under the category of special interest organizations.
“I don’t see that applying here, however,” Toth said.
‘Discouraging and disappointing’
The executive director of Egale, an organization that defends LGBTQ rights, said legalizing same-sex marriage is a big step forward, but that hasn’t stopped people from passing judgment.
Cases like this, said Helen Kennedy, show that “the cultural element has not caught up with the legal element.”
“This kind of response happens too often,” she says.
“You hope progress is made, and you see progress made,” she said, but “we know we still have a long way to go in Canada to change attitudes.
“It’s so disheartening and disappointing, but it’s not surprising. “
Robert said the rejection “almost just makes you wonder how far we’ve really come.”
“You would think now things are a little more acceptable,” she said. “Receiving this right after Pride Month, something that we actively celebrate, is just sad. I am just shocked and sad. ”
For the most part, Arthur said, planning the wedding has been a positive experience. “We were hoping that in 2020 the navigation would go rather smoothly, which was the case for the most part,” she said.
“A lot of the vendors that we have booked have been great and very acceptable to us,” she said. “So we’ve always had the excitement of brides planning their wedding. It’s just these two salespeople who really put a wrench into things, and it’s just shocking. ”
Roberts said she wanted to make people aware that there are still companies that refuse the service because of sexual orientation.
“I don’t want anyone else to be faced with such blatant rejection. I think it can be very upsetting for someone to receive. It might break someone’s mind to hear something like that, ”she said.
The couple are still looking forward to getting married. “I don’t think anyone can bring it down,” Roberts said. “I am so excited to marry Mallory. It really sucks and I wish it didn’t happen, but at the end of the day, I still get to marry Mallory. And I know it sounds so cheesy, but I’m really excited that she’s my best friend. ”
Arthur echoed that sentiment. “She’s just my favorite person in the world, and I can’t wait to marry her. “