Same-sex Phoenix couple considers legal action against wedding planner
PHOENIX — A Valley group that identifies itself as a wedding-planning ministry may be facing some controversy after turning down a same-sex couple.
Crystal Allen and Kenyata White of Phoenix said they were working with the city of Phoenix’s Equal Opportunity department to determine if Affordable Wedding Ministries violated the city’s LGBT anti-discrimination law by refusing to coordinate their wedding.
Allen and White have been together for two years. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Arizona, they were planning a December wedding.
“We’re not having a huge wedding,” White said. “We wanted something really nice and quaint, intimate.”
Allen is studying to be an attorney, while White is an author and performing artist. Both lead busy lives, so they were looking for a wedding planner to handle all of the details.
When they checked out the website of Affordable Wedding Ministers, they thought they had found the right one.
“It looked perfect,” Allen said. “The price really worked in our budget, and it took care of all of the little details that we just did not have time to deal with.”
White said that she established a great e-mail relationship with the Rev. Susan Latimer, who runs Affordable Wedding Ministers.
In those e-mails, she referred to her partner as her fiancée, without using White’s first name or mentioning it was a same-sex relationship. “It didn’t cross my mind to say anything,” Whitea said. “She’s my fiancée, that’s what I call her, I didn’t feel the need to change it.”
Allen said everything was fine until White included Crystal’s name in an e-mail after the couple was asked what kind of wedding package they wanted.
“Kenyata’s reply via e-mail that Crystal and I would like the romance package,” Allen said. “Then we got a reply back the next day that said ‘We’re sorry, we strongly disbelieve in gay marriages. They make us very uncomfortable. This would not be a good fit.’ ”
White was shocked. “It was just crazy that she (Rev. Latimer) just completely turned.” “I really felt like our conversations and our interaction was really genuine, and she really did like me at first.”
KTAR requested an interview with Affordable Wedding Ministers to get its side of the story. In response, Rev. Latimer sent this e-mail (punctuation and grammar appears as written):
“No matter what I say to you I believe it will be twisted by the media. (Where was the media when the Wrigley Mansion had their same sex couple wedding contest ? A double standard indeed not including traditional man and woman couples. Was KTAR there?)
— Editor’s note: KTAR covered the contest.
By the stroke of one Federal Judges pen we are being dictated what the state says moral law should be.
This goes directly against Gods laws and the majority of Arizona voters in 2008.
There is a war on those who believe on Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit and the WORD of GOD. Why is my freedom being taken away ? Where is the tolerance for our way of life ?
God ordained marriage between man and woman.
I feel same sex marriage is wrong and have every right to believe in what GOD’s WORD says.”
White said that Latimer does have a right to her beliefs, but offered a suggestion. “To save us both time, put that (not willing to host a same-sex wedding) on their website, or it make it very clear,” she said.
“If I had been clear about it, of course, I’m not going to going to just put my life into this person’s life who doesn’t accept me, and make her do (the wedding).”
As for any potential legal action, Allen and White may have a tough time making a case against Affordable Wedding Ministers.
Under the Phoenix ordinance, ordained ministers can refuse to perform same-sex weddings under the First Amendment’s freedom of religion. If Latimer is an ordained minister, she’s not breaking the law.
“I guess we’ll have to wait and let the Phoenix Equal Opportunity department determine that issue,” Allen said.
The couple has since scheduled an appointment with Marissa Tristan, owner of I Do Events in Phoenix, which specializes in same-sex weddings.