Lesbian Denied Dress

A N.J. bridal shop is being accused of discrimination after refusing to serve a lesbian couple

Ordinarily a story about a lesbian wedding seldom makes the front cover of the local paper – unless you’re a lesbian like Alix Genter who was recently told by a South Jersey bridal shop that she should look elsewhere for her gown. The Philadelphia Daily News reports this week that Here Comes the Bride in Somers Point, N.J., refused to do business with the bride-to-be after the shop manager learned that Genter was marrying another woman.

Genter and her partner – who have applied for both a civil union in New Jersey and legal marriage in New York – went shopping for their gowns with family in tow. It was the typical scene in many ways. Mom made gift bags. Friends helped Genter try on dresses before the big event the women have planned at Normandy Farm in Blue Bell. Everything seemed to be going as planned – until the store manager (first name’s Donna) noticed that Genter crossed out “groom” on her order form and replaced it with “partner.” One bride plus another bride equals gay marriage, the clerk concluded. No dresses for them!

Not only did the store manager accuse the women of engaging in illegal activities (even though both N.J. and N.Y. offer some sort of legal same-sex union), but she also suggested that the reason the two women were gay is because they were tired of men “bossing” them around and went on a supposed tirade about gays behaving badly.

The story has caught the attention of writers and activists across the blogosphere and mainstream press in the last two days, calling for an investigation into the legality of denying such a service and asking important questions about what LGBT people must sometimes go through to enjoy equal rights in states that actually grant them.

Gawker posted an especially interesting take on this anti-gay flap, asking heterosexual couples to boycott the bridal shop. The story also puts out feelers to other shops in the region that would be willing to help the longtime couple shop for their upcoming nuptials. We don’t expect that will be too difficult. After all, two brides means two dresses. And that’s no small sale.

We also hope that folks like Donna within the wedding services industry wise up so that other couples can avoid the humiliation, embarrassment and discrimination that Genter and her partner have needlessly experienced – even if it shows that laws only go so far. Sadly, it takes more time for some people, even the ones we expect to behave respectfully, to catch up.