San Francisco couple exits wedding industry over same-sex marriage

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

UrLoved Photography

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Christian Examiner) -- A lot can happen in three days. That's the reality for California photography duo Nang and Chris Mai of Urloved Photography after a same-sex couple targeted their family business because of their personal beliefs. Now the Mais are walking away from the lucrative wedding industry instead of trying to navigate the murky waters of same-sex unions that embroil their artistic profession.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Rafael husband and wife team came under fire when they referred two homosexual men to another photography company to capture images of their pending nuptials.

"We genuinely felt referring this couple to a photographer who does share their personal beliefs would provide them with the best service for their special day," read a statement on the Urloved website.

But the attempt to communicate "their artistic passion for excellence" to the gay couple was misinterpreted, according to Charisma news. T.J. Kelsall of San Francisco posted a comment on the company's Facebook page claiming the duo had declined to photograph him and his partner, Thai Lam.

"Great shots but this company denied me and my fiance, a same-sex couple, from their services. Stand up and say something about it," he wrote Nov. 4 on the company's now defunct Facebook page.

The Urloved photographers said they were overwhelmed by negative messages and phone calls. In the end it took just three days for adversaries to shut down the services of the established photography business. On Nov. 7, the San Francisco couple told supporters via Facebook.

"We have been flooded with hate calls, e-mails and accusations that inaccurately depict our business," the couple wrote in their official statement. "On top of that, we have come to a difficult decision that we will no longer be in the wedding photography business. We are grateful for this experience as it has caused us to think about how our personal beliefs intersect with our business practices."

It is unclear if the couple will continue to pursue senior portraiture and lifestyle photography, two separate services their website indicated they also provide.

The California's Unruh Civil Rights Act requires businesses to provide all persons "full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments, including both private and public entities."

Similar legal provisions are increasingly being used to file complaints against businesses that cite religious beliefs for denying services to same-sex couples.