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Insights & Thoughts

Editorial: Why I Choose to Serve the LGBT Community

By Pye Jirsa on July 27th 2015

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Disclaimer: The following article is an opinion piece by the author. The opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SLR Lounge as a whole.

I wrote this article nearly a year ago. Like I do with most of my articles, I decided to take some time and let the article “bake” – a practice many writers use so they can come back to the article with fresh eyes after a period of time. But, for some reason publishing the article slipped my mind. Recently with the SCOTUS ruling on LGBT marriage, there has been a lot of questions and debate within the photography community, particularly among wedding photographers. Our own SLR Lounge Community Facebook Group has been debating this now for several days, and I thought it was time to release the original article.

There have been many conversations and questions such as, “Is it right for a Christian to photograph an LGBT wedding?” or “Can I legally deny service to LGBT Couples?” I write this article to provide you all with my perspective on the topic, but I do so knowing that this article will not change the minds or influence those with hardened hearts. I write it in the hopes that it may help those with open hearts gain a new perspective, or perhaps help guide those that are genuinely wrestling with how their business intersects with their beliefs.

Let me also note that I welcome debate and conversation in the comments below. But, should your comments/arguments/debate take a hateful or demeaning turn, we will remove your comment without hesitation. We have worked hard to keep SLR Lounge an uplifting and safe, educational environment, and will continue to do so.

My Personal Background

I am going to start this article off by saying that I am LDS (Mormon) and am very active in my role in the High Council for our area. I am also a convert to the LDS church in that I spent the first half of my life influenced by my relatives who are Muslim, and my father, a former Muslim, turned agnostic/semi-spiritual if you will. I served an LDS mission and returned to marry a Chinese woman who is also an LDS convert. At this point, my family and extended family are composed primarily of Muslims and Buddhists; the two of us being the only LDS/Christians. Because of this, (along with my passion for religious studies), I have had quite a bit of intimate contact with many different religious philosophies.

I bring religion into this debate because honestly, without religion, there is no debate. There isn’t a civil/secular argument that could stand on its own two legs for why LGBT couples shouldn’t get married. Likewise, there isn’t a business argument for why LGBT couples shouldn’t be treated equally in business. Civilly, it makes sense that every individual share equal rights, and in business, it makes sense to serve all clients that are willing to pay for services equally.

For those that want to simply know my opinion and stop reading here, let me give you my short answer:

I will love and serve every client of mine, straight or gay, the same. Not because they are paying me money, but because they are people. They are my brothers and sisters and they deserve the same love and respect as anyone else. Period.

At this point, there may be many of you thinking, “That’s not possible; it’s against your religion” or “Then you aren’t LDS or Christian,” etc. Let me give you my perspective on how I reconcile my beliefs with my behavior.

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3 Common Arguments Against Shooting An LGBT Wedding

1. “I don’t want to deny my own beliefs by shooting an LGBT wedding.”

The most common argument I hear is something to the extent of, “I don’t want to deny my own beliefs by shooting an LGBT wedding.” This argument is based on a very skewed line of logic. By this logic, a person feels that by servicing someone who lives their life differently, they tacitly approve of those decisions and deny their own.

To those that are pondering this argument, let me ask you a simple question, “How many of you shoot weddings or run businesses strictly for those that share your same beliefs?” Answering honestly, most of you would probably say that the majority of your clients/customers do not follow your set of beliefs.

But, let’s just make a radical assumption for a moment. Let’s assume that you could actually find enough clients that are of your same belief/religion to support your business. Do you interview each and every one of them to ensure they are living and practicing your mutually believed religious tenets? If you are a Christian, do you ask your clients if they have premarital sex? Do you ask if your clients drink alcohol or do any form of drugs? Do you ask if they are honest in their dealings with their fellow men, avoid paying taxes, break laws or speed on the freeway? Do you ask if they go to church and read the scriptures regularly? Do they obey the law of the tithe and keep the Sabbath day holy?

But, by the original line of logic, would not servicing a Christian client that has premarital sex, drinks alcohol, does drugs or anything else considered a sin also be tacitly condoning those life decisions that are again against your beliefs? By the original line of logic, you should interview each client to ensure they live and practice your religion to your exact same degree.

Yet, none of us are going around giving our clients spiritual interviews (at least I have yet to hear of a photographer doing so). So my point is, where do you draw the line? Most of us that belong to the exact same religion will once again follow a “cafeteria” styled approach to picking and choosing the laws/commandments that we feel are best for us. In every religion and within particular sects, there are varying degrees of obedience and belief by its members.

So, by following this line of logic, you should not service anyone in your business that doesn’t follow your exact same beliefs. This should include those that are of your same religion, but don’t follow the exact laws/commandments that you do. To do so would be to “agree” in their life decisions. The flaw in this line of reasoning is that each one of us is given our own personal moral agency, our own freedom of choice. In fact, many religions (including LDS) hold this as one of the most sacred teachings – that our freedom of choice or “agency” is why we are here in the first place.

This means that befriending, loving, servicing, and supporting others does not in any way, shape or form affect your own personal decisions and moral agency. Your beliefs are still your own. Your decisions are still your own.

To provide an even larger scale example of this, the owners of Marriott Hotels are also Mormon. Yet Marriott hotels choose to service each client/guest equally. Their bars still serve alcohol and drinks, even though Mormons aren’t supposed to drink. Their gift shops offer cigars and cigarettes, even though Mormons don’t smoke. They respect and treat each of their guests equally, and offer the same services their guests would expect at any other hotel.

They offer equal service because to do otherwise would make absolutely no business sense. If Marriott weren’t to offer the same services as other hotels, then the majority of their guests would simply take their business elsewhere.

I think more importantly, they offer equal service to their guests because to do otherwise would be removing their guests’ “agency” or freedom of choice.

Hopefully, at this point we agree that the logic of “not serving because I don’t agree and don’t want to deny my beliefs” doesn’t hold up. It doesn’t make sense from a personal, religious or business standpoint.

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2.  “I don’t support that lifestyle. Hence I choose not to photograph or be around it.”

Personally, if I were gay, the most frustrating thing for me to hear would be that this was a “lifestyle” of my choosing when, in fact, it wasn’t. Honestly, if the switch were that easy to turn on and off, wouldn’t it just be far easier to be “happy” by being straight?

The stance of, “I don’t support that lifestyle” is probably the most insensitive and judgmental arguments around. Not only is it insensitive in claiming that this was a conscious decision, but the argument also asserts moral superiority. Because, let’s be honest for a moment; scientifically for the vast majority, being homosexual isn’t a decision. On the other hand, choosing to have premarital sex, drink, break the law, do drugs or any other “sin” is most certainly a lifestyle choice.

So, in terms of lifestyle, the only question is, what lifestyle decisions are you making that are not in line with your religious affiliation?

Let me say that I don’t understand why, nor do I choose to presume, the challenges that we are given in this life. Who knows why we are born the way we are? For lack of a better word, that’s a stupid and pointless conversation. We all have our challenges, and to single out any other group is to ignore yourself and your own ACTUAL lifestyle decisions.

To conclude this argument, if you are a Christian, then I would challenge you to point me to the scripture where it shows Christ denying blessings and service to those that are imperfect. If I am not mistaken, his only requirement was that one have faith/follow him, and the only people he served were those that were imperfect and in need of help (i.e. every one of us is imperfect).

As a Christian, it seems our only responsibility is to love, serve, and be an example. Judgment was never a right or responsibility that was given to us.

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3. “I’m uncomfortable working with LGBT couples, do I have the legal right to deny service?”

This is the only argument that I find some sympathy for. To be honest, for me, serving and photographing LGBT clients is no different than any other client. The difference is only and always will be in the photographer’s mind. Yet, there are many individuals out there who are honestly trying to figure things out. They know that they are uncomfortable or lack the skills and ability to shoot an LGBT wedding, so they are looking for legal protection in their ability to deny service.

The courts are probably going to be battling these cases out for the next few years, but here are my thoughts as someone who isn’t a lawyer. Denying service to an individual because of poor hygiene, lack of shirt/shoes, or bad behavior is the right of any business. But, denying service to a class of people has always been held as discrimination. So, as the courts sift through all of these cases, I highly doubt they will stand behind the legal right to deny service to the LGBT community. Of course, you are best seeking the advice of legal council in this matter.

Here’s the thing. If I were gay, and you were uncomfortable photographing a same-sex couple or wedding, I wouldn’t want you to shoot my portraits just as much as you wouldn’t want to shoot my portraits. If you were to kindly tell me, “I respect you and am flattered that you would seek out my services, but I am inexperienced shooting same-sex couples. However, I have some talented photographer friends that would love to photograph your event that I could recommend.

I would smile, say thank you, and ask for those references. From the many LGBT friends/clients that I have, I am pretty sure they would respond similarly as well. I know plenty of male photographers who choose not to shoot boudoir/maternity simply for the exact same reason. They are uncomfortable and inexperienced with the subject matter. They simply state the honest truth, and refer them to someone who will do the work well. I have never seen one of those photographers turn around and get sued for denial of service.

But, having many gay friends and having served many gay clients, here’s my one council I would give you on this subject: If you can’t respect, love and serve a client as you would every other client, then take a step back, bow out of the conversation/shoot in the manner described above.

Some of you may interpret what I am saying as referring to only same-sex couples. No, I am referring to any client. I have heard photographers speak negatively towards clients of different races, of different religions, towards those that are overweight, or not traditionally as “pretty” as they would have liked. My friend Jerry Ghionis said it best, “Want to be a better photographer? Be a better person.

So let me say it again: if you can’t respect, love, and serve a client as you would every other client, it’s time to bow out and do some self-reflection. Because the only thing worse than pushing them away would be to take on clients who you don’t love and are unwilling to serve. This brings me to my final point.

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The One Law that Does Related to This Circumstance

For Christians, there are no scriptures that teach you to deny support, service, love, or care to those around you. Yet, there are plenty of references to help us know exactly how to deal with each other as people, including right there in the 2nd commandment.

Following the first great commandment to “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…” comes the second, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Believe me when I say that it is awkward for me to quote scripture within the context of a professional article here on SLR Lounge, but I feel like it is necessary for this one specific instance. Because, for some reason, we that claim to be religious (any religion) have the tendency to “pick and choose” our favorite beliefs. We are essentially, “cafeteria believers,” walking down a buffet of religious options, picking and choosing which ones we like best.

Well, here it is, right there in the New Testament as the Second Commandment, to love thy neighbor as thyself.

It’s necessary to quote this scripture because it’s necessary to point out that there are no qualifications to that statement. It doesn’t state to love they neighbor if they share the same skin color, have similar beliefs, like the same hobbies…you get my point. It’s plain, it’s simple and it’s straight forward. In my mind, to ignore that commandment is to deny your Christianity before any debate even begins.

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Our Studio Philosophy

To conclude, we ensure that all of our photographers in the studio agree with our philosophy that we will love and respect every client equally, period. To love an individual is to respect their choices and freedom of agency. We love our clients equally and we respect their choices to have the freedom to believe and live lives of their choosing in the pursuit of happiness. Just as we would hope that regardless of their beliefs, they love and respect us to do the same.

About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Karen Borter

    Coming in late (very) to this conversation but I am so terribly glad you wrote this article. You voiced the points I have been struggling with to be succinct over the years. Well done you and well said.

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  2. Janna Slaback

    Great article. Thanks Pye! As a Christian, I must admit that I have struggled with this question about what would I do if I were approached to do a same sex wedding. As a person, I have a great deal of friends who are in same sex relationships and they are some of the kindest, coolest people I know.

    I actually did have a lesbian friend ask me recently how much I would charge for doing an engagement shoot with her fiance. I did not know how to respond, honestly, I was shaking in my boots. Not so much because she is lesbian, but rather how do I pose them? I’m very comfortable posing straight couples … I have no frame of reference for same sex couples. I have no idea. I have no experience.

    As a photographer, I want my clients to LOVE their photos. I want to capture the essence of who they are and I want to deliver quality. In this case, I really had no idea of how to approach it. So I chickened out, I guess you could say, and just referred her to my website as she inquired via FB pm. I never followed up. Thankfully she found a photographer who took absolutely amazingly beautiful portraits of the two of them …. WAY better than I could ever do. I wish I would have had the courage to have had a real conversation with my friend about my fears.

    I appreciate knowing how I respond to an inquiry can be detrimental and potentially financially devastating if I don’t use care in how I approach the request to photograph a same sex wedding. It’s called going into the situation with my eyes wide open. So even though it was like opening up a can of stinky worms, I appreciate your perspective. And I’m grateful for the prior conversations on other forums because discriminating against a class of people is a pretty big deal. And in my case, knowing the legal consequences is of vital importance.

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  3. Ralph Hightower

    My personal belief is that marriage exists between a man and a woman. I recognize that same-sex couples don’t have the same rights as married couples in regards to health care, inheritance, and tax benefits; that should not exist.
    In my opinion, this could have been defused by states creating a civil union that grants rights to same sex couples.
    If a business is open to the public, then they should accept all that walk in. For service industries, such as catering, flowers, photography, venues and staffing, etc., that should be their personal right of refusal.

    I was not aware that the owners of the Marriot were Mormons. But that must explain the high price of beer and alcohol on their properties. I commented on their survey card that the “price of beers would lead one to temperance.”

    So, what’s next? Will the next Supreme Court Battle order Vatican City to recognize same-sex marriages? That will be crossing the boundary of church and state.

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    • John Cavan

      Personal beliefs are a poor basis for law and “separate, but equal” has already been shot down in other forms of discrimination. In any event, Vatican City is actually a country (autonomous state) within the borders of Italy and thus not subject to the Supreme Court of the United States. Shocking, I know!

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    • Ralph Hightower

      Yea, I brought up Vatican City as an example that the US Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over. I don’t think that SCOTUS can dictate to Mecca either.

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    • Ralph Hightower

      The slippery slope probably begins next year with the Supreme Court having to decide the separation of Church and State that the US was founded upon. The US has no official religion and it doesn’t endorse one.
      There will probably be various lawsuits next year against the various Protestant, Catholic and Muslim religions. Each religion has their governing body and they are responsible for defining policy. With Catholics, SCOTUS has to order the Pope to marry same-sex couples. With Muslims, who knows what their governing body is?

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    • Dave Haynie

      That’s just silly… SCOTUS is not going to order Catholics or any other religion to marry gay people or any other class. No different than other formerly special classes of marriage… no church in the USA has been forced by the government to perform interracial marriages either, 48 years after the Loving decision. Separation of Church and State goes both ways.

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  4. Max Zbarskiy

    While posing the couple might be no different the comfort level of asking someone to do something will vary from one photographer to another. If you are comfortable doing that great! If others are not, should they be forced to by court mandate and threat of lawsuit? Not very tolerant is it?

    Time Caisley you are completely wrong on this one. US has nothing on Russia, China, Cambodia and other nations that committed mass murder and atrocities against their own people in the name of progress and expediency. I was born in USSR so you are completely wrong on this matter. I know it is popular to blame the US, capitalism, corporations, oil companies for all the troubles in the world but the single fact remains that US has done more to help the people of this planet than most other nations. I believe between USSR and China over 100 million people were murdered. When US gets remotely close to that then your ‘having blood on its hands’ statement will be somewhat valid.

    Second you make way to many assumptions about how someone should run their business. One cannot live a life at home one way, following a certain set of standards, guiding principles and morals and then throw them out the window when arriving at work. We are not talking about dresscode or language here. The core beliefs of an individual do not change the minute they stop out the door. People do not work like that, nor should they. I am all for the businesses losing clients if they do not wish to serve them but such economic punishment should occurs naturally and not by a court mandate or as a result of lawsuits and those who wish to profit from those lawsuits.

    Third your statement on photographer ‘having to work for a business other than themselves’ is completely illogical. Working for yourself gives you the greatest amount of freedom. If you are not allowed to work for yourself without harassment and in accordance with your beliefs then what is left? What happens when some other group of people deem something offensive and instead of seeking other photographers decide to sue? (My guess is this will most likely go the way of medical malpractice insurance and drive up costs). Also, your comment on ‘protected class’ is interesting. I thought we wanted equality not small groups with special privileges.

    Finally, your last paragraph is confusing. What exactly is acceptance then if it’s mean to be handed out so easily? What exactly are you accepting? That the person in question is a human being? Sure. That they have rights? Yep. But should you accept their behavior regardless of what that behavior is? I would argue that you may tolerate it, but that’s not quite the same thing is it? Acceptance means agreement and approval, at least how I see it. If a person approves of everything I would question their moral compass.

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  5. Max Zbarskiy

    I think that Pye is being a little disingenuous here. If he wanted to give advice to fellow photographers on how to respond to gay clients then he could have just suggested to refuse service due to the lack of experience and stopped right there. Instead he went on writing this opinionated political piece.

    It’s ironic how people who claim to be tolerant and most vocal about gay rights never mention human right violations in the Muslim world towards gays, women and other religions. My suggestion to those individuals is this: before trying to swat a fly in the good-ole USA, have the courage to acknowledge a big elephant in the Middle East.

    Now to address some of the points of Pye’s article. While I am not concerned with what people do on their own time and in their private life, I do care when they try to shove their personal beliefs in my face and seek my acceptance.
    Since when is acceptance mandatory? We are a TOLERANT nation that enjoys heated debates, but we don’t torture, murder or abuse those who are different on an institutional scale; that ladies and gentlemen is true tolerance – putting up with someone you don’t like, disagree with or maybe even hate. Just because we are tolerant does not mean we should accept some forms of behavior as normal, especially when it comes from a very small minority of the population.

    (The reason I say behavior is that while gays might be born that way or have certain genetic predispositions, I’ll leave that to activists, politicians and scientists, the way their act is a choice. Being intimate is a choice. Being very public about your private life is a choice. Openly suing someone, for disagreeing with you, is a choice, etc. )

    This leads me to several logic fallacies of Pye’s argument:

    1. Premarital sex, alcohol, drugs are sins according to Christianity (I’m Jewish by the way). So by Pye’s logic if we overlook one sin we should overlook all others? People are sinners, nobody is perfect but should we not strive to better ourselves or should we sink to the lowest common denominator? Just because a photographer chooses to overlook a sin or considers some sins minor, should they overlook other sins that further cut deeply into their beliefs?

    2. The second argument Pye makes is that some businesses, owned by religious individuals, choose to serve gay clients. My response is: SO WHAT? It is their decision and while I think they are violating religious doctrines for the sake of money it is their legal right to do so. Should a photographer be forced to do something just because someone else does it? Even within a single religion the level of worship varies from person to person. Someone people are very strict practitioners while others less so. To equate every individual is simply wrong.

    3. The last part is about love and discrimination. Love is EARNED. You love a person for their character, personality, achievements or behavior. To love someone without thoguht or reason or because they are black, gay, straight, transgender is not love at all – it’s just empty words. So to say you love a complete stranger without knowing who they are, what they do and how they treat others is, well, meaningless. Really, it has even less meaning than saying ‘I love pizza’, because at least I know that pizza tastes good. As for discrimination since when has it become a bad thing? We do it all the time. There is another word for it. Classification. We decide if something is hot or cold, tall or short, pretty or ugly, etc. Likewise, we decide if someone is good or bad, right or wrong, accepted or rejected, etc. and we do it based on our personal beliefs, moral code, experience and judgement. To never discrimnate is to not have a moral stance or to never stand up to your beliefs. To be permissive or everything is to accept evil as good or immoral as moral. How far does permissive behavior go? Should we be accepting and loving of pedophiles, polygamists, zoophiles? There are boundaries in every civilized society. History has shown us that when those boundaries disappear the civilized society disappears as well. Just how far does “tolerance” go?

    Well this is the end of my rant. I really enjoy SLRLounge content and believe they have very talented photographers and teachers but I do find it disturbing that this political articles keep popping up ( this is #3 by my count in the last few weeks ). Speaking of keeping business and personal/political beliefs separate… isn’t it kind of hypocritical?

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    • Tim Caisley

      You’re saying to turn down LGBT clients due to lack of experience. I counter with the fact that posing an LGBT couple is absolutely no different than posing a hetrosexual couple. The only thing that changes in the entire day is that you end up doing two sets of Getting Ready shots & that you end up with marginally different ring shots, beyond that, near everything is the same. You still shoot the same, you still process the same. With regards to posing, the LGBT couple will subconsciously fall into what is comfortable for themselves, it is then up to you to tweak the scenario to produce the best images possible.

      You say to look towards the Middle East. You can’t affect an external change without having your own house in order, to do otherwise is sheer hypocrisy. A do what I say, not what I do scenario. Once the LGBT community has achieved their goals of equality, their energies will shift towards other issues. This is an area where everyone must adapt to the changes, but people will always fight for the Civil Rights that are most important to them & once the change is affected, then another issue will gain their support.

      “We are a TOLERANT nation that enjoys heated debates, but we don’t torture, murder or abuse those who are different on an institutional scale”

      You really need to fact check that one. Seriously need to fact check. The US has, of all Nations, the most blood on its hands, both within & without its borders. From an ‘institutional’ stand point, Homophobia, Islamophobia, Transphobia are abhorrent within the US, more over, how a Nation accepts obvious Hate Groups & does nothing to quash them is nothing short of insanity & sends out completely the wrong message.

      No one has been sued for an individual not agreeing with someone, Businesses have been sued on grounds of discrimination towards a protected class. You have a business licence, thusly, you are required to follow the Civil Law laid out for Businesses in your area. This is something that an awful lot of people are failing to understand. The Business is being taken to court, the owners are the ones representing the business. Religion has absolutely no place when running a business, unless of course you are a religious or apostolic organization.

      On your logical fallacies:

      “Should a photographer be forced to do something just because someone else does it?” The Photographer has a business licence, thusly they are required to conduct their business according to the law. If they don’t want to do so, then they should reconsider working for someone else other than themselves.

      Yes, Love is earnt, however, acceptance should be automatic. Accept someone for who they are, not letting preconceived notions colour the experience. We’re all too quick to judge & it can be quite detrimental in the long run.

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    • Graham Curran

      What happens in the Middle East is not relevant to the issue raised by Pye. He has the power to make a real change locally but can hardly do much about the Middle East. That doesn’t means to say that we should not care about what goes on there but they are independent of this post.

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    • Pye

      I find this ironic given that I am from the Middle East, and most of my family still lives there in Iran. So believe me that I am in tune to what is happening there. But, Max, I guess me writing my opinion and putting it out there means that I will be judged accordingly, and that is fine. The whole piece was simply intended to provide my opinion, hopefully open up some minds and allow people to be more tolerant towards one another and to hopefully separate business vs civil vs personal beliefs. Either way, thanks for your comment. This is the first time I wrote on the topic, but if you feel like it is being discussed too much, I can understand appreciate that.

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    • John Cavan

      The neat thing about hyperlinks is that you don’t have to click them… Even better, I’m pretty sure nobody made you read it either.

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  6. Ant Motton

    Anyway…whens that Nikon D900 coming out…………………..!!!!

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    • Pye

      Haha, you’re right Ant. We need to get over this and get back to being photographers. Thanks for the levity ;) made me smile

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  7. robert garfinkle

    @Jimmy –

    IMO, not just a god / jesus thing, it’s a human thing.

    straight up, we humans have a tendency to abhor the differences rather than seek to understand / accept – at the expense more so what lies in our heads / hearts vs. the material / superficial. I suppose that is a main function of a religion i.e. christianity / judaism and the like – to drive us to understand, accept, and love one another; yet does not always work out that way, correct? I have a tendency to believe some religions don’t operate the same way as the afformentioned, imo…

    as stated way, way above, I think there are differences between written scripture and “god” – or let me contextualize it more, the interpretation there of..

    I say everything under this house ( on earth / heaven ) is a “god” thing, as a function of “it is what it is.”

    don’t take what I say to mean that a murderer is acceptable, it’s not.

    all I am saying is. ok, some people were not meant to love another of the opposite sex, nothing wrong with that – it’s a god thing in my books.

    what bother’s me is the struggle for acceptance / rights etc.

    let’s look at the recent mess relating to the indiana law and gay rights.

    our constitution, provides a platform for us to be who we want to be on our soil, live freely without a gov or another person interfering, yes. to me that’s a human rights thing.

    covered under that, is religion correct – which means we are protected to observe freely, our religion.

    yet it blew me away to see the gay reaction to a law which had nothing to do with anti-gay, but they decided to interpret it that way. and push the issue..

    it was there to uphold one’s rights for religious freedom, nothing else.

    now, on the other hand, some have claimed, using religion as a weapon, to repel a person who is gay, and deny rights, and that is also wrong.

    some in the media have spun that law, calling it the anti-gay law, and it wasn’t. that was wrong too.

    you can’t make / force a people / religion accept who ya are. if you start to do that, then there is no constitution, no freedom.

    i mean imagine if we were told its ok to observe the constitution, but only in private. your observance of it may offend another…

    more later.

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  8. Pye

    @Robert T – I thank you for spending the time to respond, I appreciate that you have done it passionately, and somewhat respectfully as well. But, here are my counter arguments as to why your reasoning doesn’t make sense to me. I also want to clarify, that while I hope, I am not of the naive belief that I will be able to sway your thoughts/beliefs. I do feel the need to respond because I feel that there might be many out there looking for guidance and while your statements sound like logic and reasoning, to me they are precisely the opposite. So, I hope for them it helps clarify my viewpoint.

    1. Let’s speak first on biology. You claimed “Biology is a very clear non-religious argument” as to why LGBT couples shouldn’t get married. You are absolutely right about that. In fact, based on biology nobody should get married, at least not to a single partner. In general, men are hard wired with the instinct to reproduce with as many women as possible. Biologically, marriage doesn’t make sense for anyone. Marriage is a civil/religious tradition that most of us mutually buy into and accept given our cultural upbringings, but it goes directly against our natural biology as human beings.

    The other argument against your “biology” statement is that science has shown that the majority of LGBT people are born that way. They are biologically hard wired to be gay. So when you bring up biology, I don’t see that helping you in justifying marriage of any sort (straight/gay), I see it actually as doing the opposite. So yes, the only argument against LGBT weddings is a religious one, and guess what, state and religion are two separate things (I will talk about this more in a minute).

    2. In your next argument, you state that “it doesn’t make sense to be forced to serve all clients that are willing to pay for services equally.” Actually, it makes perfect legal sense. Legally, business have been denied from having the right to refuse their services to entire groups of people. African Americans fought to establish this with the Civil Rights Movement. “No shoes, no shirt, no service” is not the same thing as “we don’t serve the Irish”, “we don’t serve black people”, and now “we don’t serve LGBT couples.”

    3. You state my choice to love/serve because they are people is a “null argument” because “criminals are people too.” With this argument you compare a believed MORAL wrong to actual LEGAL wrong comparing someone who is gay to a criminal. You even go so far to compare a family/friend who comes out as gay as being comparable to family/friend who comes out as a rapist/murderer. Somehow you have twisted and compared supporting/participating in LEGAL CRIMES against serving/befriending those who are gay (a MORAL sin based on religion). Well fortunately, this is a country where church is separate from state. So you can do something morally wrong, and not go to prison. Were it a church-run state than morality/legality would be the same (like Iran where I was born).

    Meaning, it’s possible to get married according to the state, and for the relationship to not be recognized according to a particular religion. Church and state are two separate things and you shouldn’t be using your believed “moral law” to make “civil law” judgments. Turns out our founding fathers were quite adamant about the whole “separation of church and state” thing. So not only is this argument offensive in its comparison, it’s actually logically flawed as well in that you are comparing apples (moral law) to oranges (civil law). But, if you lived in a church state, you’d be perfect for politics. =)

    4. Your next argument states that “what people do in their private life is their business, you don’t ask. But, if they are openly promoting premarital sex (moral), promiscuity (moral), alcoholism (moral/biological), Nazism (legal), crime (legal), racism (legal), porn (moral), drugs (moral/legal) and other immoral things, then you won’t do business with them. I have taken the liberty of pointing out which of your arguments fall into legality/morality/biology because they are all over the place. My first argument to this is that I have never heard of any couple (straight/gay) openly promoting any of these things. Secondly, you are basically qualifying this argument with a sin/legal wrong doing in private is “acceptable” but, if it’s in the open, then “nope, not acceptable.” That seams straight up hypocritical to me. If serving a LGBT client in your mind is the same thing as supporting their “sins” then I’d argue that serving a client who “sins” privately as being the exact same thing. On top of that, if you are Christian I would ask you to find a single example of Christ doing anything close to this in his life. I.E. find me an example of Christ rejecting service/support/friendship/love/etc to a “sinner.” Your argument of denying service because of your beliefs, is my argument to you not truly internalizing and understanding your beliefs.

    5. How about the statement of “my decision is to not participate in a homosexual wedding.” This argument is great, because I am sure homosexual couples wouldn’t want you to participate in their wedding anyway. Most photographers/vendors will never be asked to photography a LGBT wedding, simply put their work isn’t quite up to par anyway. Yet more often than not, they are often the ones making the most radical statements against shooting a homosexual wedding. To me, this is kind of like the bros in the frat walking around judging girls on their beauty and saying, “dude, she’s hot, I’d totally make out with her.” My response is, “bro, she probably wouldn’t make out with you, so it really doesn’t matter anyway.” Bottom line is, if I were gay, you don’t have to worry because I wouldn’t ask you to be part of my wedding. If I thought your work was good enough to merit considering hiring you, I would think you should be flattered first and foremost. Then second figure out a way to respectfully communicate any concern you have in a genuine and loving manner and refer me to someone who you trust to do the job well. I will still think your reasoning is flawed, but I can’t think of a single gay/lesbian client of mine that would take legal action against you if it were approached in such a way.

    6. The Marriott hotel example. This was an example to show that business can and in my mind should be separate from personal lives in the same way that church is separate from state. Nobody said you have to take them, or me as your example at anything. If you are Christian, I’d hope you already have your example. This article, along with that example was simply here to give you my perspective. Operating a hotel isn’t a “morally gray” business or a business that is directly opposed to LDS beliefs. But in operating a hotel, or owning a convenience store, retail establishment, it’s reasonable to provide a service that your guests would expect elsewhere (i.e. operating a bar, selling alcohol, etc). In my mind you could say it was hypocritical money making if a Mormon who shouldn’t watch porn, owned a porn production company or an adult entertainment store which would be a business that directly opposed an LDS person’s morals.

    My question to you is in what parts of your life, work or the beliefs you preach are you being hypocritical? Either way, my examples along with this article is simply to offer you my perspective. Call it what you will, believe what you will, that’s your choice. Chick-fil-et has made it their business to stay closed on Sundays. But, they will still sell caffeinated beverages and food products that are straight up unhealthy and for many, against their moral beliefs of what businesses should do. But, for them, they chose to draw that line based on their beliefs. Notice one thing, their “obeying the Sabbath” does not apply to just a single class of people. They aren’t “closed to all non-Christians” they are closed to everyone. Hence, this is not discrimination when it’s a generally obeyed religious principle that applies to any and all individuals.

    7. Your arguments regarding it being a “sin.” Again, I would refer you back to the bible, your own life and to the challenge of focusing on yourself and your own areas of hypocrisy. Seems like one who is so heavily focused on sins occurring externally might be forgetting the ones occurring internally.

    8. Your arguments that you “love homosexuals as you love you” sounds kind of untrue. I would actually ask if you are mutually friends (i.e. they agree you are their friend as well) with a single gay person because I have my doubts. Serving, befriending, helping and being around those that you believe “sin” doesn’t mean that you love or agree with the “sin.” If it did, the very person you supposedly believe in (Christ) would be guilty of loving every sin (moral, legal and biological).

    You can think you are just being ‘blunt’ and say “I think you are just using the opportunity to get more clients.” I would say that what you call it blunt, I call judgmental, rude and offensive. I feel no need to describe, justify or tell you anything about our/my success in business or in the photography world prior to writing this article. I have grown up in racial and religious persecution, I have gone through my youth being a racial and cultural outcast, and I have built my business and life in the face of family/friends who tried to persuade me otherwise. So say what you want to say, at this point it’s water off a ducks back.

    To those reading this, I hope that you will be able to differentiate the difference between personal beliefs (moral law), civil rights (civil law) and moreover being a good human being that is striving and reaching for inward perfection, versus outward judgement.

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    • Michael Stagg

      Well said, sir! Well said indeed!

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    • Jimmy Arcade

      @Pye, thank you for taking the time and mustering up the courage to write this article, publish it, respond to the criticism. It’s a well-written article! You’ve also provided some great responses to flawed arguments from people who don’t quite understand the purpose of the article, the sentiments behind it, and the respectful and intelligent manner, in which you’ve addressed how this difficult and hotly debated topic relates to true, real life decisions that photographer’s are or will need to make.

      As someone who considers himself an “in-progress” follower of Jesus (Christian), it does my heart good to see someone like yourself–so respected in the photography industry and otherwise–provide a sound, rational, and logical argument, while equally pointing back to Jesus as the ultimate example of one who loved, served, and hung out with people in a non-discriminatory fashion. He truly was a friend to the marginalized, outcasts, and sinners and openly condemned the religious leaders of His time, for not truly understanding the original purpose of God’s law–per the Pentateuch, prophets, and other Old Testament texts. That purpose being to love and honor God and love your fellow human beings.

      The religious leaders of the time were so focused on obeying the tenants of the law and judging/punishing others for not doing so, that they were missing the original purposes and point of the law, entirely. When a particular teacher of the law had asked Jesus which law or commandment was most important, it was Jesus who was recorded as having replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”. For, according to Jesus, “There is no commandment greater than these”. (Mark 12:28-34, respectively).

      Unfortunately, there are those that consider themselves followers of Jesus, who continue to perpetuate the same philosophies, misplaced judgments, and narrow-mindedness as that of the very religious leaders that Jesus was continually admonishing. One of the most helpful pieces of advice I was given on a proper read of the New Testament, was to picture myself as one of the Pharisees or Sadducees (religious leaders) that Jesus was addressing, in order to better understand how easy it is to focus on the law and lose sight of the love. It’s still a daily discipline for me to remind myself that judgment belongs to God. However, it’s actually quite freeing to know that I can leave the judgment to God and just focus on loving people around me, regardless of their class, race, religious background, age, gender, and…yes, even sexual orientation / identity.

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  9. Michael Stagg

    I don’t photograph gays or heterosexuals; I photograph PEOPLE, period. never would I turn a potential client away based on their sexual preference anymore than I’d turn away someone with, say, different political or religious beliefs. In business, and in life in general, I’m here to be of service to others. That isn’t dependent on what you look like, who you date or marry or who you voted for…

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  10. robert raymer

    I think it is sad that here in America, in the year 2015, we have to have an article about why it isn’t OK to employ business practices that discriminate against an entire group of people.

    That said, Pye, thank you for writing it, and writing it in a way that discredits the religious arguments so often used as the basis of discrimination. It is clear from all of the negative comments that articles like this are still, unfortunately, necessary.

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  11. Ant Motton

    Why am I even bothering to get into this ridiculous discussions…. *face palm*……..

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    • Justin Haugen

      Because we can’t help ourselves when someone is wrong on the internet lol

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    • robert garfinkle

      more than you know Justin, how profound that was, which you just said…

      a book can be written on that

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    • Pye

      Lol, I think Justin Haugen wins the comment internets ;)

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  12. Ant Motton

    Seriously….comparing being gay to being a murderer,rapist or thief…..that’s offensive, that’s the sort of view point you’d get from the 50s and 60s when being gay was illegal!! … Even go the whole way…why don’t you put that on your website “if your gay , a murderer a thief or a rapist I’m sorry but your custom is not welcome…” see if your viewpoint is welcomed or current in this day and age….

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    • robert garfinkle

      Not defending him at all – of course…

      What I think he is trying to say, a person vehemently objects to murder / rape, yet if their sibling / friend commits it, thus does someone then feel different about it – in the same fashion that if a person who openly abhors homosexuality then finds out their sibling / friend is gay, should they change their stance…

      Yes, I can see the point, but you guys are correct, and I stand with you, that murder / rape is way different than homosexuality… not even in the same league (ridiculously so), and Robert T probably could have picked a different mode / method to get his point across…

      regardless of another’s act / way of life – when it comes to family / friends: I don’t condone murder / rape / the alike; they are heinous nothing short of – and I’d probably still love the family member (or friend) yet help them get well / seek council / suggest they do the right thing and pay consequences where applicable – that sounds so businesslike, maybe; however I will be clear it does mean I have to steer clear of them, they are unhealthy, at best..

      Homosexuality, is not an unhealthy thing, you cannot categorize it as such – and there is no reaction / behavior change (in my books anyway) other than to continue to treat that person with love, respect, and dignity – frankly, you might as well be doing cartwheels for that person, who decided in a heated society, to be comfortable with who they are and live their life based on who they are, not on what other people think. applause…

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    • Graham Curran

      One example is about love and consensual enjoyment which harms nobody; the other is about hatred and non-consensual violence against another. What a way to make an argument.

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  13. Max C

    This guy (Robert T) is comparing the LGBT community to rapist and murderers. Are you serious? Are you dense? Really, are you even an adult with common sense?

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  14. Michael Old

    I dont think that a same sex couple or alternate gender (I am not sure the correct term) should be denied service because they dont conform to the mainstream stereotypes. Everyone, no matter what deserves to be treated with respect.
    However i also do feel that a photographer should be able to have some control over who they deal with. Everyone deserves to work in a good work environment. Not everyone gets along and working with someone who’s personality causes issues is not conducive to a productive and harmonious work environment. This would also mean that client would probably not have the best experience that they deserve as well.
    The problem is that it is a slippery slope and opens up the possibility for people to abuse it. If you allow people to have the right of refusal due to LGBT reasons, whats next? because of a different religion? different race or skin colour?
    Everyone has rights. The question is, does someones, or some groups, rights supersede the rights of someone else or of an other group, and if so under what circumstances and to what extent?
    Wouldnt it be nice if everyone treated each other with respect and compassion so we didnt have to legislate how we have to deal with other people

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  15. robert garfinkle

    wow, touchy subject…

    this all reminds me of the movie, “Crash” with Sandra Bullock and famous cast… great film.

    you see so much inner conflict here; some more resolved than others… but no one is extreem, a little exception here n there making it not exactly 100% for / against.

    so, let me ask? let’s say you are against for the most part, people know it, and your business / personal matters suffer from it, yet you stand your ground, and do not want to go against your beliefs.

    that’s ok btw, it is what it is – your moral compass is centered where you want… good.

    but then all of a sudden, bam, your brother or sister, best friend, announces they are gay…

    now where do you stand?

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    • Stan Rogers

      Unfortunately, Robert, the answer to that question, far too many times, is that people will cut off the relationship rather than reconsider, and believe that they are doing the right thing — no matter how much it hurts (or who it hurts). And whether or not you think that makes sense makes little difference.

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    • Robert T

      What if, all of a sudden, you discover that your brother or best friend, it’s a rapist, a thief, or a murderer? You suddenly change your convictions and say that rape, theft or murder are normal and you are proud of your brother/ friend? You support him and participate to his crimes?

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    • Robert T

      Pye, your photography articles are excellent, but this one… is terrible flawed. All the shallow arguments you use, can be used (and they are used) for paedophilia, zoophilia or any other -philia.

      “I bring religion into this debate because honestly, without religion, there is no debate. There isn’t a civil/secular argument that could stand on its own two legs for why LGBT couples shouldn’t get married.”

      The problem is that in secularism, you can argue for anything, because honestly, secularism doesn’t have an objective moral compass, so everyone could argue for what he “feels”, and find excuses for anything.

      Biology is a very clear non-religious argument.
      There isn’t any argument why LGBT couples should be permitted do something they are not qualified for. There isn’t any argument (religious or not) for changing the thousand years old definition of marriage.

      “Civilly, it makes sense that every individual share equal rights”

      Why “it make sense”? Why is this “sense” objective? By what standard?
      They already had “equal rights”. Everyone had the right to marry a person of the opposite gender.

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    • Robert T

      @Pye

      “it makes sense to serve all clients that are willing to pay for services equally.”

      It doesn’t make sense to be forced to do this. The fact that you are willing to pay can’t force me to accept your money and your request to provide the service.

      “I will love and serve every client of mine, straight or gay, the same. Not because they are paying me money, but because they are people. They are my brothers and sisters and they deserve the same love and respect as anyone else. Period.”

      “Because they are people” it’s a null argument. Criminals are people, too.
      You don’t have a secular argument to justify that “they deserve the same love and respect “.

      Treating someone with respect, doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything they do, if it’s wrong. That’s not respect. It’s madness.

      ” If you are a Christian, do you ask your clients if they have premarital sex? Do you ask if your clients drink alcohol or do any form of drugs?”

      A non sequitur argument = flawed logic. This “logic”: “if you do something wrong, then you shouldn’t do anything right and you should accept all the other wrong things” it’s ridiculous.

      What people do in their private life it’s their business. I don’t ask. BUT if they are openly promoting premarital sex, promiscuity, alcoholism, Nazism, crime, racism, porn, drugs or other immoral things (by my standards), then I won’t do business with them. Satisfied?

      There is nothing wrong with a normal traditional wedding, so I don’t have any reason not to participate.
      A homosexual wedding is by definition wrong, it’s a celebration of a sin, so I don’t want to be a part of it. Makes sense?

      THE BIG DIFFERENCE IS THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK A LGBT COUPLE ANYTHING. It’s evidently when you see 2 men or 2 women wanting to get “married”.

      Another answer is this: It’s not your business how and why I choose MY beliefs. If you ask me “do you want to photograph my homosexual wedding?” I would say “no”, and this should be the end of the story. Go and look for a photographer who share your beliefs, I don’t have any obligation towards you. It should be common sense. You keep your beliefs, I keep mine.

      Homosexuals changed the whole society because they “feel so” – an ultra-subjective argument – but they don’t want to allow others to feel different. Isn’t that hypocritical?

      “So, by following this line of logic, you should not service anyone in your business that doesn’t follow your exact same beliefs.”

      No, we don’t want to participate to events that are against our principles. Simple.

      “Your beliefs are still your own. Your decisions are still your own.”

      This is nonsense. My decision is to not participate to a homosexual wedding.
      What value have my beliefs if I don’t live by them? How can the participation to a celebration of a sin not affect my beliefs?
      Why don’t you consider the opposite? THEIR beliefs are still their own, even if I don’t participate. So what’s the problem?

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    • Robert T

      @Pye
      “To provide an even larger scale example of this, the owners of Marriott Hotels are also Mormon. Yet Marriott hotels choose to service each client/guest equally. Their bars still serve alcohol and drinks, even though Mormons aren’t supposed to drink. ”

      What they are doing it’s THEIR business and their conscience. They are not my model. Why should I do what they do? What they do is not respect, it’s hypocritical money making.

      ” If Marriott weren’t to offer the same services as other hotels, then the majority of their guests would simply take their business elsewhere.”

      So the reason is not religious, not moral, but fear of losing money. So you are a man of principles and/or a Christian only if you don’t lose money?

      “I think more importantly, they offer equal service to their guests because to do otherwise would be removing their guests’ “agency” or freedom of choice.”

      There is no logic whatsoever in what you’re saying. Only the guests have “freedom of choice”? The owner doesn’t? So a Christian should participate to a sinful act, if asked, because otherwise he would “remove the freedom of choice” of the sinner? What non-sense is that?
      THE GUESTS ARE FREE TO GO ELSEWHERE. THEY ARE NOT FORCED IN ANY WAY TO DO WHAT THE OWNER WANTS. THEIR FREEDOM IS PRESERVED.

      “Not only is it insensitive in claiming that this was a conscious decision, but the argument also asserts moral superiority. ”

      Regardless of how one became sexually attracted by a person of the same gender, IT’S A CONSCIOUS DECISION TO HAVE A HOMOSEXUAL RELATION. Being a kleptomaniac doesn’t make stealing moral, normal or accepted.

      “On the other hand, choosing to have premarital sex, drink, break the law, do drugs or any other “sin” is most certainly a lifestyle choice.”

      Yes, all those are sins, also. Choosing to have premarital sex, to drink, etc etc IT’S THE SAME THING WITH CHOOSING TO HAVE A HOMOSEXUAL RELATION.

      ” If I am not mistaken, his only requirement was that one have faith/follow him, and the only people he served were those that were imperfect and in need of help (i.e. every one of us is imperfect).” “As a Christian, it seems our only responsibility is to love, serve, and be an example.”

      The Bible defines homosexuality as a sin. Jesus always condemned sin. Sins aren’t just a caprice. Sins are acts against the law of universe and bring humanity to destruction.
      You misunderstand what faith is. That “only requirement” has multiple implications. It isn’t just a word you can twist or give any meaning you like. Otherwise Jesus would have left only that one sentence.

      “Love” isn’t just a subjective sentiment:

      “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

      “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. ” 1 John 2:4

      Yes, those people were imperfect, but they admitted they were imperfect, they wanted to change, they repented and they sought help.

      You also have a flawed understanding on “judging”. People make judgements all the time. You do too, even in this article. We SHOULD judge between right and wrong. There are several cases in the Bible where we are advised to judge. If someone steals, or murders, should we look away, saying “I am not supposed to judge”?

      “To be honest, for me, serving and photographing LGBT clients is no different than any other client.”

      It’s your choice and it is based on sentiments, not on reason or on biblical arguments. It’s also based (as you suggested) on wanting to gain money. Some of us have other principles, and as you wanted your principles to be respected, we want the same.

      “Denying service to an individual because of poor hygiene, lack of shirt/shoes, or bad behavior is the right of any business. But, denying service to a class of people has always been held as discrimination.”

      You are describing exactly the same type of people. People who have bad behavior. It’s no difference.

      “For Christians, there are no scriptures that teach you to deny support, service, love, or care to those around you. ”

      There are PLENTY. Loving sin is a vice, not a virtue. Supporting sin is the same. Christians are supposed to reject and rebuke sin, not to support it. Caring about someone implies to want his well being, not to support his destructive behavior. Participating to the celebration of something abnormal (a sin), it is contrary to the Scripture.

      “Well, here it is, right there in the New Testament as the Second Commandment, to love thy neighbor as thyself.”

      I do exactly this. I do not love my sins and I don’t try to find excuses for them. I try to change and to stop doing the same mistakes. So I love homosexuals as I love me. I don’t love their sinful behavior as I don’t love mine.

      The problem is that you take that commandment and you put your own flawed non-biblical definitions for “love” in it. And so you think you found support for any perversion, in the name of “love”.
      Read the Bible to see what true “love” is and what’s not.

      “We love our clients equally and we respect their choices to have the freedom to believe and live lives of their choosing in the pursuit of happiness.”

      Forgive me being blunt, but I think you’re just using the opportunity to get more clients.

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    • robert garfinkle

      @Robert T – that’s different, it really is. Being gay / straight does not cause any death, dismemberment. Being gay, is not murder, rape, nor a crime.

      If you are trying to line up a moral / ethical comparison, from a scripture / god thing – I suppose I can get something from your response –

      No, I’d not sway if my brother / sister / friend were a murderer / rapist – but gay, c’mon. way not the same thing.

      my two cents –

      I think @PIE was ok in writing this article – he seems to draw controversy in a lot of stuff he writes.

      It’s all good

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    • Justin Haugen

      “What if, all of a sudden, you discover that your brother or best friend, it’s a rapist, a thief, or a murderer? You suddenly change your convictions and say that rape, theft or murder are normal and you are proud of your brother/ friend? You support him and participate to his crimes?”

      ^^That has to be the most contrived hypothetical situation I’ve ever seen.

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    • Tim Caisley

      @Robert T

      I’ll just leave these here for you, since you’re quoting scripture, we wouldn’t want you to be a cafeteria Catholic, picking & choosing what to follow from The Bible:

      Romans 13:1-7
      Submission to Governing Authorities
      13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

      6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

      1 Peter 2:13-14:

      13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

      There are more passages which decree that Civil Law must be obeyed, to do otherwise is to go against Scripture.

      To your Biology point, what about those Hetrosexual couple unable to conceive, be it through infertility or be they beyond their biological prime?

      You are aware that Marriage began as a Civil Contract yes? It wasn’t until recently that it became a religious affair. Also on top of that, the Church has held Same Sex ceremonies in the past. It wasn’t until the present King James edition of the Bible that all of this became an issue.

      So you’ve shot a Lesbian Wedding, but you wont shoot a Gay Wedding. So you’re not just discriminating based on Sexuality, you’re doing so on Gender as well.

      To be a member of the LGBT community is not something one chooses, unlike, say, Religion. It is not something that people are indoctrinated into, unlike Religion.

      I hope you’ve confessed to your priest for any Civil Law violations & partaken of the proper penance.

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    • Tim Caisley

      Apologies, it was Robert S who’d shot the Lesbian event.

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    • Robert T

      @Tim Caisley

      Thanks for your “concern” about me and my beliefs, but…

      …I’ll give you the same answer Jesus gave in Matthew 22:15-22

      “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?
      Show Me the tax money.”
      So they brought Him a denarius.
      And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”
      They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

      And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

      When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.”

      “”I’ll just leave these here for you, since you’re quoting scripture, we wouldn’t want you to be a cafeteria Catholic, picking & choosing what to follow from The Bible:””

      What should I quote in a discussion about Christianity, other than the Scripture? I am not Catholic, btw.

      Seems you’re a cafeteria atheist, since YOU pick and choose only what you think you can use against me, disregarding all the others.

      Isn’t it ridiculous that you think you can use to support homosexual weddings, the same book from the Scripture (Romans) which starts, in chapter one, with this:

      “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”

      You think Paul said that, only to say a few chapters after, something like “submit to whatever they ask you to do, do whatever dishonorable thing they want you to do, even participate to abominations”?? I don’t think so. Who is “picking and choosing”?

      Romans 13 is talking about an authority that “are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.” Now, what is good and what is evil is defined in Romans and in the whole Scripture.

      Obviously Paul wasn’t talking about complete and absolute submission to any civil authority, regardless of how corrupt or morally wrong it is. The civil authority killed Jesus, Paul and all the martyrs after. They didn’t submit, and because of that they got killed. But they respected the authority, they didn’t revolt against it and didn’t push for revolutions.

      “To your Biology point, what about those Hetrosexual couple unable to conceive, be it through infertility or be they beyond their biological prime?”

      Those are admitting they have a problem, and they try to cure it. They don’t do anything wrong, but they are unable to conceive. Homosexual can conceive, but they don’t want to, they CHOOSE to go against the normal reproduction and have sex with a person of the same gender, just because they like it.

      “You are aware that Marriage began as a Civil Contract yes? It wasn’t until recently that it became a religious affair.”

      It was a “religious affair” since the beginning. Only that it wasn’t always officiated by priests, in churches. Anyway, marriage was always the union between a man and a woman, so I don’t see your point here.

      “so on top of that, the Church has held Same Sex ceremonies in the past. It wasn’t until the present King James edition of the Bible that all of this became an issue.”

      That’s a lie. And anyway, a Christian is someone who follows Christ, not a church or another. You can study the oldest manuscripts if you have doubts over the translation.

      “To be a member of the LGBT community is not something one chooses, unlike, say, Religion. It is not something that people are indoctrinated into, unlike Religion.”

      Yes, it is. Both a choice and something you are indoctrinated into.
      Everything you do is your choice. BTW, the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual orientation, but homosexual activity.

      So, thanks for your condescending “correction”, but… I think you need to study (not just read) more.

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  16. Barry Cunningham

    Thoughtful and well written article.
    Like you said, there are no secular or business arguments for bigotry against same sex marriage.
    The religious arguments for bigotry in any of its forms have always seemed to me most unchristian.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I am not, have not ever been, and have no intention of ever becoming a wedding photographer. I would be a terrible wedding photograper. Although I have attended more than a few of friends and relatives, large weddings make me uncomfortable. While I am always respectful, almost all religious ceremonies raise my atheistic hackles and annoy me to no end, so I avoid them whenever possible.

    I did note one small error that made it past the copy editor: the second commandment, and the other nine as well, were part of the Old Testament. Moses, the Burning Bush, and all that.

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  17. Steve Madden

    My first ever wedding was a lesbian wedding!
    Funny thing was, because I was only dealing with one half of the couple, I assumed was the Bride.
    I didn’t know until a few weeks before the wedding that it was a lesbian one!
    It was only when I asked what her partners name was that I figured it out!

    All my weeks of planning poses for nothing! HA HA!

    Was a great day though!

    Steve…. :)

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  18. Max C

    I don’t understand why this is such a big topic and people are so offended. LGBT folks are just like all of us; normal people who like each other. Stop acting like you don’t know any gay people or never met them; they are not Aliens who just came to earth. How can you say that you don’t want to work for them because you don’t know how to pose them or you are uncomfortable; this is so laughable. As I said, they are not Aliens. The fact that it is legal for Gays to marry now, does not change anything. It means more work for me and you. I know some people will start with the Religion BS but which of you Religious folks are without sin? So stop judging.

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  19. Ant Motton

    I apologise if I caused offence, that wasn’t my intention. It just frustrates me that in this day and age that this is even a discussion, it shouldn’t be a gay,lesbian,transgender, whatever-you-are-wedding, it’s just marriage, two people who love each other and want to make it official. Once again, sorry for any offence caused Pye….

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    • Pye

      No offense taken. It’s a heated topic, and I expect passionate debate. Just giving you my two sense.

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  20. Justin Haugen

    I believe in supporting these unions, and also believe photographers and wedding vendors are allowed to decline weddings they are uncomfortable with. Why would a couple want a photographer to work their wedding, because it is mandated by some ruling. I don’t like what happened to the photographer in New Mexico and I don’t think we should be forcing same sex marriages onto people whose visceral response is “icky”.

    Hopefully in 50 years, we’ll be well past this, but as you can see with race relations in our country today, the sentiments of hateful dissent cannot be quelled. I imagine a future where publicly we support LGBT unions, but there will be a lot of people who will refer to them by unsavory language in the comfort of their homes and private gatherings.

    I can’t change my racist misogynistic homophobic truck driving uncle, and I quit trying years ago. =/

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  21. Paul Nguyen

    Pye, thank you for a very eloquent, expressive and very thoughtful article. I hope this comment reaches you, but I feel I just have a few things to add which I think are so important.

    Despite everything you touched on in your article, I think what stuck out to me the most is – “I bring religion into this debate because honestly, without religion, there is no debate.” Quite simply, I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and I really believe that this should be the be all and end all of all debate.

    Religion is a personal view. Different people have different religions with different teachings. Preferences are also a personal view. Perhaps it is due to my background, but I have always viewed personal preferences (such as religion) and professional decisions very separately. If I’ve chosen to become a wedding photographer, that means that I am a wedding photographer for all – i.e. straight couples, gay couples, criminals, religious people, non-religious people…etc.

    I don’t discriminate professionally based on personal preferences. Let me say a little about myself though, I was in medical school training to be a doctor for a few years before dropping out, studying economics and now I’m an economist 9 – 5 on weekdays and a photographer on Friday nights and weekends. In medical school, we were always taught to suspend judgement – that we have a duty of care towards all patients, rich, poor, straight, gay, male, female, criminal or not – that regardless of what they have done or whether we like or agree with them, we are obligated to take care of them equally. Similarly, as an economist, I regularly work on social policy issues that affect different groups of people.

    I feel all professions should be like this – that we should suspend bias, judgement and personal beliefs whilst working. This is why I view any photographer who refuses to photograph ‘gay’ weddings as unprofessional. I have no problem with them not wanting to have personal relations with a gay couple, but professionally, they have no solid reason to be refusing service and their personal beliefs are (to be honest), quite irrelevant to their job.

    (Just to take another example, I know of Christian teachers who don’t believe in evolution, but teach it because that’s what the curriculum states and what is the general scientific consensus, for example).

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    • Max C

      Most religious people are hypocrites; accepting one type of sin while condemning the other. All sin should be bad, not just the ones you feel uncomfortable with.

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  22. Leslie Troyer

    I wish all people could approach life with the same openness as you espouse here!!

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  23. Dave Haynie

    Opps… “your suggestions”… I ought to self-edit before posting.

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  24. Dave Haynie

    Great article, Pye. And it’s very good to point out that the “Chinese Menu” style of religious observation is pretty much the rule among most people. Having several clerics in the family, I grew up having to figure out different and mixed signals and teachings, before moving past it all myself.

    I don’t like the idea of any government coming along telling me, as a creative artist, I must do this or that… that’s quite different than a business offering exactly the same services to every customer. I have shot some crazy weddings, I would shoot an LGBT wedding no problem, but I would be uncomfortable shooing, say, a Nazi wedding (if such things even exist… but having attended a Star Trek wedding, and having shot one featuring dinner in bed and circus acts, I suppose anything can happen). But even for those who must say “no”, there are a dozen different ways to do that. You’re suggestions are excellent.

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  25. Paul Empson

    another UK photographer.. and I have to agree the only people who seem to have an issue with this are the zealot religious vocalists insisting on their view above all others.. and even that is something we don’t see too much of in the UK.. thought it is there..

    I’ll happily photograph any wedding so long as the couple and I get along.. if we don’t we’d not make the best photos.. and it would be an assignment we’d both best look elsewhere..

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  26. Ant Motton

    Like Graham said, this really is a non issue in the UK. But if this was a problem, and some blinkered, backward thinking, invisible sky god fearing person wanted to turn down a booking due to somebody’s lifestyle, I say carry on, it’s more work for all of us un-bigoted photographers who enjoy being part of a day filled with love and happiness regardless of gender. You views are your views and that’s fine, just understand they are outdated and not welcome in this century……

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    • Gregory Davidson

      Your comment in itself comes across as bigotry to those who believe in an “invisible sky god” and by saying there views are “outdated and not welcome in this century” really shows your intolerance on the matter.

      On one hand you are in essence applauding Pye for separating his believes from his business but on the other hand you are mocking him.

      I think what Pye was trying to do is speak about love and respect, regardless if you agree with or disagree with what people believe, do or “lifestyles” they live. You could have easily voiced your agreement without being condescending and by doing so staying in the spirit of what Pye was trying to accomplish here.

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    • Tom Johnson

      Wow dude I think you missed the point completely. What is a blinkered, backward thinking, invisible sky god fearing person even mean lol?

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    • Pye

      Ant, I appreciate your comment. But, it also kinda proves my point. LGBT groups fought long and hard for their civil equality, and still fight to be treated without discriminatory behavior. I imagine this fight will go on for some time. But, now on the flip side reverse discrimination is being thrown back to those that do believe in religion. Believers are now becoming fearful that they will be discriminated against or treated harshly simply for believing what they believe. Equal respect and care needs to be offered to both sides, and I don’t think that respect is there when one side feels that religion is for “blinkered, backward thinking, invisible sky god fearing person.” Granted, I agree with you that a religious person willing to judge another doesn’t grasp their own beliefs. But, I genuinely feel that there can be love and respect offered to those on each side of the argument.

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    • Gregory Davidson

      Well said Pye, I looked up on LDS.org about judgement and came across this passage: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/7.1-3?lang=eng. Some religious people probably don’t grasp their own beliefs, but as you said “every one of us is imperfect”. I like to be optimistic that there are more people in the world trying to do good and fall short rather than the opposite.

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  27. Yessica Sargent

    Pye thank you for writing this article! Being an LDS member myself I’ve thought about this quite a bit. Your article states just what I needed to hear! I could not agree more.

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  28. Graham Curran

    I’m so glad that I don’t have to bring religion into my decision taking. This seems like a non-issue in the UK where most photographers are happy to shoot any wedding whether it be religious or secular; gay or straight. This is not to say that I don’t have any ethical principles but I get them from humanist rational reasoning rather than any prior dogma. For me the main issue is to treat all your clients with equal respect and not be judgemental about other people’s lifestyles.

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    • Robert T

      “to treat all your clients with equal respect and not be judgemental about other people’s lifestyles.”

      Isn’t that a “dogma”?

      “from humanist rational reasoning” you can find arguments for literally anything. People did it for eugenics, mass murder etc etc etc.

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    • Graham Curran

      I think you need to investigate what humanism is, it certainly is not a basis for mass murder. And no, treating people equally is not dogma.

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  29. robert garfinkle

    My comment will appear two-sided to some degree.

    First off. I applaud you PYE, to stand your ground. I think it within everyone’s right, not just as an American (or anyone else who walks this land, no matter what the capacity or tenure etc.) but as a human, a person. kudo’s.

    I also applaud everyone else’s comments / views equally, different than PYE’s. why? because that’s the way it goes….

    The bible, interpreted by mass religious groups, many state being gay / lesbian etc, is so anti-scripture, but I have a hard time believing it’s anti-GOD, if you believe in GOD. and there is a big difference between scripture and GOD; some don’t see it that way, but, that’s my viewpoint.

    If, everything is supposed to be the way GOD planned it, then anyone who may be gay etc IS in fact part of GODs plan – that’s who they are right. Why is that so wrong. in my eyes EVERYTHING is a GOD thing. the rest of it, is a function of our acceptance, right. And if religion, generally speaking, is a faith based covenant, teaching acceptance, then why do we have such a hard time accepting one another for who the other is…

    one word – FEAR, no matter how you slice it, our differences are parted by fear, is that correct.

    Pardon me for being obtuse – and I divert from the platform for a moment. Yes, in some senses, a man being with man or woman being with a woman, the parts don’t fit and there is no natural propagation of the species, is that about the size of it. but they can love each other, has nothing to do with sex, correct. maybe it was just how it’s supposed to be..

    But let me hop back on the core topic – I hope you get the sense that I am not uncomfortable with homosexuality, and really pardon my religious banter if you will, but what I do not like is it being pushed in my face, or put me in a position to abandon my freedoms and rights so someone else can observe theirs. that’s not right.

    Ideally, fundamentally, this land was made for you and me. I don’t have an issue with you being who you are right up to the point you sequester by-law my right to object to it, if I so choose. all I am saying is, don’t work so hard to take away my choice to make room for yours, because at the end of the day, if you take my choice away, you take your own choice away – then what type of America would we have? we don’t.

    So, I applaud everyone here. see a bit contradictory, but then again, I join the hypocrisy of being human.

    finally, and then I’ll go away. Starbuck’s, you know. they a while back wanted to write racism on their coffee cups so their Barista’s would strike up the conversation. And it was met with defiance.

    Admittedly, I wrote Starbuck’s the moment I read / heard about it – pissed off all to hell. It was none of their business to inject those social topics in our coffee. But, 24 hours later, after I thought about it. it became ok with me. and I wrote them back stating I was going to march right down to my local Starbucks and bring up the topic myself. The girl behind the counter did not even know it was a corporate directive. but we talked about it. I asked her what she thought racism was; and she answered typically, but did not associate racism with fear – to which I think all of this stuff derives from.

    there was an artist who won an award on national geographic, for one of the most profound image compositions I have ever seen, directly dealing with gay rights vs. religion.

    PYE, everyone, here is his link. I sent it to hanssie a while back, maybe all you all have seen it. powerful –

    http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/5729267/

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    • Robert T

      “If, everything is supposed to be the way GOD planned it, then anyone who may be gay etc IS in fact part of GODs plan – that’s who they are right.”

      You forgot about “free will”.
      What God thinks about it, He already said it and it’s recorded in the Bible.

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    • Justin Haugen

      Did you choose to be straight? Was that a decision, or is that the way you were born?

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    • Robert T

      I try to choose everyday to do what is right and not to do what it’s wrong, regardless of how I feel. Right or wrong doesn’t depend on how you are predisposed to be, genetically or whatever the reason.

      It doesn’t matter how you got your sexual orientation, but WHAT YOU DO with it. You decide what you do. Even if homosexuality were completely genetic (which is not), it wouldn’t be any different than any other birth defect. It doesn’t mean that it is normal and we shouldn’t try to correct it.

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  30. Tom Johnson

    The more I read on this topic, the more upset I get. Articles like this; persuasive opinion pieces are terribly presumptuous, invasive, and trite. Who are you to deem yourself the moral compass of whats right and wrong?

    Life gets a whole lot easier when you stop trying to influence others and just worry about yourself and your family.

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    • Pye

      Tom, I wrote the article to that exact point. I am not sure if that is being missed. The purpose is simply to respect others, and just worry about yourself.

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    • robert s

      you dont have to keep pushing it in people face. its a sensitive subject and people have their own opinions and ideas of what is right and wrong. you just posted this 3 weeks ago. let the smoke clear first a bit.

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    • Pye

      Sorry Robert, not sure what you are referring to. This is my first post on the subject. I am not sure if you are talking about someone else’s piece.

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    • Eric Mazzone

      Pye I think this is the typical response of people opposed to same sex marriage, to complain that it’s constantly being thrust in their face. Going so far as accusing the most recent person to talk about it in a positive manner as having done so over and over, even when it’s the first time they’ve spoken about it because all is being seen is “ick gays, I don’t like, gross, ick”, and lashing out at anyone ‘persecuting them’ by talking about what they’d rather ignore.

      As to your 3 reasons given, the only one potentially valid is the third, IMHO. I personally don’t shoot weddings because I don’t have the personality for it. But with the current legislation being pushed through in Michigan requiring all marriages be performed by an ordained minister, thus thinking to prevent same sex marriages, because they think that no ordained minister will do so, ignoring the fact that this will prevent atheists from getting married too. Because of this legislation I have become ordained and am completely willing to perform the ceremony for anyone whom asks.

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    • J. Cassario

      As a writer for this site, please show me where Pye posted this 3 weeks ago? Am I missing something??

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    • J. Cassario

      Tom, if you disagree with Pye’s views, the article showed you a different view. Others, or shall I say many in our industry, are confused as to how others are handling this. Pye wrote this article as way to shed light on how he handles the issue, something that can help a lot of others with their decision making. I’m really confused as to why you are so offended and upset by this. If you disagree, you disagree, leave it at that. Others, as you can see by the comments, found it helpful and a very well written piece. Whether they agree or not.

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    • Ren Guest

      There is no “pushing” in this article. It’s an opinion piece, NOT a “YOU MUST AGREE WITH ME!” piece. Pye is quite understanding that there will be some that disagree. This is his opinion and advice to those who may be questioning this topic. It’s relevant and worth discussing by those mature enough to do so.

      As someone who is fairly green in this area, it’s nice to be able to see advice that can be applied to other facets of the business. I shoot boudoir but I do NOT do male boudoir and have no desire to at all because it makes me uncomfortable as I am guessing shooting a male gay wedding would make you uncomfortable. That is discriminatory in and of itself. I’ve always been stuck for things to say when the question has been asked. I can now say that my lack of experience (though I don’t need to say I don’t want experience in this area) makes me a bad fit for that client as opposed to saying “Ew, boy germs”.

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    • Ren Guest

      Thought this was a brilliant piece, Pye.

      It makes me sad that those who are uncomfortable with gay weddings due to their personal faith/belief system are labelled as bigots. I know folks who have many a gay friend but who also believe that marriage is sacred between man and a woman (though these same people have no issue with legal civil unions aka civil marriage). I would be horrified to see them labelled as bigots because I know they are not. I keep saying to folks that one court decision made overnight will not change 2000 years of faith. People will eventually come around but it will take time. Understanding is needed on both sides.

      Anyway… like I said, brilliant article and I dare say very helpful for folks looking for advice on the matter.

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  31. Albert Evangelista

    LOVE this article Pye, TY TY for writing it!! :)

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  32. Andre Queree

    Work is work, right?
    That said, if you chose not to take on a client (for whatever reason) you shouldn’t be punished for it.

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    • J. Cassario

      You are forgetting that turning business away for the wrong reasons can be looked at as discrimination, and therefore can be very detrimental to your business.

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    • Andre Queree

      Discretion, as always, should be a priority. You should be free to refuse clients for any reason. You don’t have to make a big deal out of the reasons – just say “sorry but I can’t do that job”.
      Just to be clear: I have no problem with it. I’m not a wedding photographer but I’d work those weddings if I were. However, I wouldn’t want a hate campaign aimed at me if I turned one down on the assumption of discrimination when I may simply be unavailable.

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  33. John Cavan

    Very well written, I am quite impressed with the logic and reasoning behind it.

    I think a lot of people react with an “ick” factor for gay male marriages, often the focus of the vast majority of commentary, because many straight men are uncomfortable with the concept. Yet, however, they don’t express the same discomfort with lesbian marriages. A little self-reflection might be in order for some, all things considered.

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  34. Tom Johnson

    With respect, why does this topic warrant an article.? I dont photograph architecture, wildlife, or any anything else that doesn’t interest me. Not a big deal. Choosing whether or not to shoot a gay wedding, is a personal choice and people will come to their own conclusions based on many factors. Anything that tries to persuade, guilt, or lead to one direction or another is just garbage and not appreciated.

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    • robert s

      exactly. they had this 2-3 weeks ago. caused a lot of heavy arguments. not cool to constantly bring this topic up.

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    • Pye

      Appreciate your comment Tom. But, I would hope that while you may not be interested in this article, you would be open enough to realize that many others may need some guidance in this area. Particularly with the recent supreme court ruling. There are many people genuinely trying to figure out what to do right now, and this article is for them. It has been heavily debated in our groups, and keeps getting rehashed. So rather than let it continue to dominate our group conversations, we are giving it a place on the site for people to read/discuss. If you aren’t interested, you can simply move on. Same comment for Robert. We are trying to give people a safe place to discuss. The topic keeps coming up in our FB group, and so we are giving it a place on the site to be discussed as opposed to it being rehashed over and over in our other groups.

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    • Trevor Dayley

      I think it is actually refreshing that a respected photographer in the industry put together a well written article to help others who might be trying to figure it out on their own. Often as business owners we have to face decisions that are tough and our friends and family won’t understand why we do what we do. This is a great resource for those people.

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    • Tom Johnson

      Pye consider this. I come here because of the content which is superb. I have purchased most of your tutorials and presets and really appreciate what you have given to this community as a whole. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that your work has been the single biggest influence on my photography over the past year or so. However, when I start to see political/social agenda pieces that really dont have anything to do with photography I start to question whats going on here. Especially when these types of articles can be alienating to those people who dont share the same views. I mean, if that’s what this article is all about, treating people fairly, than why is there a double standard? Why even go there? I don’t get it. And for the record im not anti gay, I just dont want to read about it here.

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    • Pye

      I appreciate that Tom. I hope you also understand the discomfort I had in talking about this article on the site. I am not lying when I say I wrote it a year ago. I only published it because it’s a topic that a lot of people are seeking guidance on. It’s intended for them. I appreciate that it isn’t an issue for you, and I appreciate your support of us. Know that we aren’t here to spread social/political/religious agenda. This is simply a topic that photographers are facing right now, and we try to address and provide guidance to photographers on photo related topics. I don’t intend to write anymore on this topic. I am simply trying to create a safe place for it to be discussed for those that wish to discuss it.

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    • Tom Johnson

      Pye, I know this must of been a difficult piece to write and I know your heart is in the right place. I apologize if my comments came on strong, but its nice to come here tune out the issues of the world and FOCUS on picture taking. Lol, see what I did there haha.

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    • Pye

      I understand Tom. I agree that I would rather just focus on photography as well. Again, I only released the article because it was consuming our other groups in conversation/debate. I wanted them to have a safe place to channel those thoughts/energy, and one where it won’t consume the entire community (like in the community group). Here on the site, it’s a self contained article that will disappear down the feed within a few days. Those that want to keep discussing can, without disturbing everyone else. Unlike in a group where every time someone posted a reply it would rebump the entire article back to the top of the page. I have no intention to keep writing on this topic, and I generally only post opinion pieces like this every once in a long while. Usually only when something in the community is going on and needs to be addressed.

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    • Timothy Going

      While the LGBT wedding debate has been a hot topic in the news, I’m not really sure I consider this a political type piece. For me, I look at this as a business advice tip. If the situation ever comes up, he’s given a helpful way to address the issue.

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    • Justin Haugen

      Tom, I know it’s not your intention, but it sounds like you’d like to silence or censor Pye and his initiative to discuss this topic on SLR Lounge for your own comfort.

      The topic is relative to the business of photography whether you are for or against it.

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    • J. Cassario

      Tom, I think you are forgetting that this is a decision that many of us as wedding photographers are facing for the first time, and many are left scratching their heads on how to handle it. While it is a personal decision, making the wrong one can be either detrimental to personal relationships, or detrimental to your business. Learning the views from a well respected leader in our industry, will definitely help others with their decision making. I think you are off base my friend, and this was a very well written article that will help many photographers in their decision making.

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  35. Leaha Bourgeois

    Love this, Pye. I am also a Christian and shoot all sorts of weddings. I like to find what we have in common- being human. We all want to be loved and heard. Loving people is what I was made to do. I will admit, this is like the pink elephant in the room for a lot of us and doesn’t come up in conversations very often. I’m glad you laid it out on the table. Thank you.

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  36. Richard Olender

    Beautifully said

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  37. Paddy McDougall

    Really interesting article. My criteria for agreeing to photograph a wedding is the couple like my style, they are happy with my fees and they are friendly and treat me as a professional. I haven’t done a LGBT wedding but I would love to.

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  38. Tanya Goodall Smith

    Great article Pye. Thanks for publishing it.

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  39. Albert Harris

    Pye, this is a very well written article. I’m an LGBT wedding photographer myself based out of Florida. LGBT Wedding Photography is a niche within a niche and it is sad to see many photographers declining couples that will not shoot LGBT weddings. It is just two people in love. LGBT couples when they hire you they are grateful that you are their photographer because down that road they have been declined by a vendor just because they were LGBT. To the LGBT community, they feel that it is discrimination. It is very unfortunate some couples would have to experience it. Some of my couples have had that refusal with other vendors.

    As for photographers who are afraid to shoot LGBT couples, find an established LGBT wedding photographer and get to know how to pose them as lovers not siblings. Ensure your website and paperwork are gender neutral. If you want to get into the same sex market, now is the time as there is a huge backlog in same sex weddings. And they are just as any other wedding (well with except with a lot of fanfare and awesome sauce.)

    I commend you Pye for a great article!

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  40. Doug Davis

    I have yet to shoot a same sex marriage but have edited a few highlight videos of them. It was a little different but I quickly got over the feeling due to how much happiness I was witnessing. Good people deserve good photos or good videos regardless of who they fall asleep with at night.

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  41. Samuel Sandoval

    I would do the same thing. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  42. Timothy Going

    Super well written. Personally, I don’t shoot LGBT weddings, though I have done portraits for some LGBT individuals. I’m definitely in the third category. And I used the same reasoning to explain when I had a lesbian couple ask about booking me for the wedding. I told them that I had never done a lesbian wedding, and that I’m not sure it would be a good fit because I wouldn’t know how to work with them on posing and such. They were great about it and just found another photographer. I was nervous about their response, but I’ve used that same reasoning to explain why I don’t do boudoir or newborn photography. Its not my field, and I wouldn’t want to be contractually obligated to give them any photos that I wasn’t confident in my skill set taking.

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  43. robert s

    Ive shot a lesbian wedding once. it was nice. might do it again. but wont shoot gay men marriage though. its not for me.

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    • Trevor Dayley

      What’s the logic for that decision Robert?

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    • robert s

      personal-nothing else. dont care for gay men marriages. not for me. to each his own.

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    • J. Cassario

      What will you tell a client when they ask you Robert?

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    • John Cavan

      Well, that pretty much demonstrates that your issue isn’t religious, it’s your own insecurities and hangups.

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    • robert s

      @j. cassario I tell them “I respectfully decline, thank you” I dont go into detail. just like clients have a right to choose who they want to choose their photographer, I also can choose who I will take. there are also hetero couples who I speak to and realize they will be very prolematic customers and have high demand and a lot of tension and I have to decline because in the end it will not be good for both of us. not everything is about money.

      @John cavan its not religious at all. Im traditional in mindset that relationships should be man and woman. if you dont agree, thats your insecurity and hangup. I dont have to accept your pov and in fact the VAST majority of the world sees it this way as well.

      whatever you want to call it, I dont care. you want to put a title on it. just like some religious people wont work in a place that serves bacon or beef, you will tell them its insecurities or hangups? thats their relisious belief or personal belief. who the hell are you to judge what they feel is right or wrong for them?

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    • John Cavan

      Sorry, but your claim seems to soften when it’s girl/girl. In other words, your stated traditional view seems to have some exceptions to it… I think most of us could hazard a guess as to why. Take your moral high ground all you want, along with your appeal to mob rule, but it’s pretty clear that you’re not quite as firm on your stance when ick changes to hot.

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  44. Trevor Dayley

    Super well written. I once had a same-sex couple ask to meet with me about their wedding. During our meeting I explained that they would be the first same-sex couple that I have worked with and that I might not feel as comfortable with posing etc as I am normally am, but would be willing to give it a shot. They appreciated that I was being real with them. They hired me anyway and I am so glad they did. While I went into it a little nervous I left feeling grateful for the opportunity to see and photograph two people who loved one another so much.

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    • Justin Haugen

      I’m hoping for the same opportunity in the future and look forward to the challenge.

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    • Pye

      Agreed. I have found that the stigma is honestly in the photographers mind. That the reality when shooting was that it was actually no different from any other shoot.

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