Colombus, Ohio — Jen Moffatt and Jerra Knicely are planning a wedding. They checked with a local Bexley, Ohio company about some wedding-related services and were flabbergasted by the company’s response which, they say, indicated the company does not offer services for same-sex weddings.
Karla Rothan, executive director of Stonewall Columbus, says she hears stories like this almost every day. “It makes you feel like you’re not worth anything,” Rothan said. “That somebody can just say that they’re not going to film your wedding because of who you chose to marry.”
Rothan said many cities in Ohio have adopted local laws on non-discrimination. Bexley is not one of them. “Now if it were in the City of Columbus it’s a whole different ballgame,” Rothan said. “That business would be held accountable and they would probably be fined.”
In a statement, Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler said: “Understandably, the community is concerned about a recent internet post regarding a query to a Bexley based business, in which the private business in question has reportedly denied a service based on sexual orientation.
The City is concerned as well. We are proud of our community’s welcoming environment and encourage mutual respect and inclusivity.
Bexley, Ohio is a community that embraces diversity and welcomes businesses, families and individuals of ALL sexual orientation, race, religion, age, nationality, ethnicity, disabilities, socio-economic levels, etc. As an employer and a provider of services to our residents, we extend that same openness and inclusivity.”
The mayor has not responded to our request for an on-camera interview, nor our emailed question about whether the City of Bexley would consider anti-discrimination legislation.
Richard Sharp, president of Bexley City Council told NBC 4 council has not contemplated such a law and that “personally I think it should be an individual business decision.”
Rothan said if same sex marriage becomes legal in Ohio later this year, as many expect it will, anti-discrimination laws will likely follow. “I think more discussion on employment and housing will probably come to the forefront again and we’ll be able to revisit these issues on a state and federal level,” Rothan said.
NBC4’s repeated attempts to contact the Bexley wedding services company were unsuccessful.