A Pennsylvania bridal shop has announced that it will close permanently in anticipation of a new city ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
W.W. Bridal Boutique in Bloomsburg, which made headlines last year when its Christian owners refused to sell a wedding dress to a lesbian couple, will officially close its doors March 30 before the local ordinance passes.
Lisa Boucher, who co-owns the store with her mother and two sisters, tells the Christian Post that the ordinance will not include religious exemptions.
“I guess what would happen is that a customer would come in and once we deny them, they would sue us,” Boucher says. “You know how that goes with other [businesses].”
In a recent Facebook post, a shop representative cited Matthew 19:4, a Bible verse about marriage, to justify its decision to shut down rather than serve same-sex couples: “We have the right given to us by God and the Constitution to live our lives according to our faith. We will not be forced by government, local ordinances or bullies to participate in something that goes against our faith.”
A W.W. Bridal employee turned away lesbian couple Shannon Kennedy and Julie Ann Samanas last summer. “She said, ’I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re Christian and we don’t believe in that; our faith doesn’t let us believe in that,’” Kennedy recalled.
After the shocked women posted about the homophobic incident on Facebook, the boutique issued a response: “The owners of W.W. Bridal Boutique reserve the rights afforded to them by the First Amendment of the Constitution to live out our lives according to our faith.”
W.W. Bridal also refused to schedule an appointment for a lesbian couple in 2014.
Boucher says that the business has received many profane and threatening messages, as well as falsified negative reviews online. “It’s kind of hard to promote a business when you are being attacked.”
“At this point, we don’t have any plans of what to do in the future,” Boucher continues. “We are kind of just resting on God’s Word and hoping that He is going to pull us through it and open some sort of doors.”
A crowdfunding page has been created by an organization called Warriors for Christ to benefit W.W. Bridal employees.