A Suwanee, Ga. gay couple is the latest victim of discrimination after the owner of a local AlphaGraphics franchise refused to print wedding invitations for them, citing his religious beliefs reports 11Alive.com. Paige Beckwith contacted the local chain after a friend referred her to the business to order intricate, custom wedding invitations however, owner Alan Akins refused her.
"The owner called me back and let me know that he's not going to print our invitations because he does not support same sex marriage.
"I kept asking him how, why, how he could do this? He just basically stood on his religious beliefs, referenced the Bible, called it a sin, and I was basically in tears saying 'How could you treat me this way?'"
Akins confirmed he denied the couple but that he would've printed other things for the couple except for the invitations. 11Alive Legal Analyst Philip Holloway says Akins was exercising his legal rights.
"Under Georgia law businesses do have the right to say I'm not going to do business with this sort of couple."
Beckwith took her complaint to AlphaGraphics' main office and received a full apology and the company produced Beckwith’s custom wedding invitations at no charge.
Said AlphaGraphics' spokesperson:
"We do not condone discrimination of any kind, and wish to make clear that customers of any race, religion, nationality, ethnicity or sexual orientation are welcome at our franchisees' locations nationwide.
"We also wish to apologize to the customers who were impacted by the actions of this franchisee, and hope that our response conveys the level of commitment we feel toward upholding our company's standards of inclusion, and that all members of the Suwanee community continue to feel welcome at AlphaGraphics."
Although the couple won a small victory, the "religious freedom" debate continues to rage in the state. Georgia Sen. Josh McKoon managed to get the state senate to pass S.B. 129 in March – a religious freedom bill similar to Indiana's. The contentious nature of the bill even gained the ire of former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, known for defending the state’s sodomy laws in the 1980s, saying the bill would "give the opportunity to exclude in the name of religion, and I think that's a disaster." Luckily, the bill is officially dead this legislative session as of April 2, but McKoon vowed that he would attempt to fully pass it again in next year's legislative session.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this post mislabeled Philip Holloway. He is a legal analyst for Atlanta outlet 11Alive.