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A newly married lesbian couple was refused service by a tax firm in Indiana because the Christian owner said their marriage was against her beliefs.
Bailey Brazzel, 25, had been a loyal customer of the Carter Tax Service in the small town of Russiaville, Indiana for four years. They’d had a good professional relationship—Bailey even brought in her then-girlfriend, Samantha Wilson (now, Brazzel), the previous year to meet the owner, Nancy Fivecoate. That’s why it came as such a shock to the young married couple when they informed her that they’d gotten married in July and would be filing jointly, and she told them she would not do their taxes because of her religious freedom and her beliefs as a Christian.
“We just sat there shocked for a minute and then we got up and walked out,” Samantha told BuzzFeed News. “It was so out of the blue.”
In a statement to Buzzfeed News, Fivecoate said that she does not mind having gay clients and that she doesn’t “say anything about their lifestyle.” However, she draws the line at providing any service to married gay couples. “I am a Christian and I believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” said Fivecoate. “I was very respectful to them. I told them where I thought she might be able to get her taxes prepared.”
While Indiana’s controversial 2015 religious freedom law, which critics say openly allowed discrimination against LGBTQ people, has been amended, many cities in Indiana, like Russiaville, still have no legal protections against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. The Brazzels shared their experience online to call attention to the ways the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act can interfere with the lives of LGBTQ folks in confusing and unexpected ways. This law makes it so there is no legal recourse for the Brazzels.
“Nancy didn’t violate any laws at all. We literally don’t have a case against her,” said Samantha to Buzzfeed. “It’s the bigger picture here. It’s about the fact that there aren’t any laws to protect us.”
H/T BuzzFeed News
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently working out of St. Paul, Minnesota. They have bylines at The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, and Bullet Points. Follow them on Twitter @thedialogtree