Dear gay and lesbian couples who want to get married:
Congratulations on finding love. It's hard, you know, meeting a person who wants to be adventurous but will also play board games, a person who makes you laugh on a Wednesday night and isn't too proud to find the cheapest beer in town, a person who will grab milk from the store when you've had a long day at work and just want a bowl of cereal, a person who wears nice socks. Mutual care and attraction are mysterious miracles that should always leave us in awe, and I'm more than glad that you've stumbled upon them.
I did a little research, though, and -- spoiler alert! -- I found out that not everyone is as excited for you as I am. If you thought that searching for the person you want to spend the rest of your life with took longer than you'd have liked, and that slogging through the awkward dates and even more awkward breakups was almost unbearable, just wait till you hear how hard it can be for gay and lesbian couples to pull together their big days. As it turns out, it's pretty tough.
Just for you, I've created a wedding checklist that highlights the challenges that you may face when trying to plan even the most mundane elements of your wedding.
□ Cake: This February Oregon-based Sweet Cakes Bakery owner Aaron Klein refused to sell a lesbian couple a wedding cake. "If I have to be penalized for my beliefs, then I'll let it be what it is," he said. Citing religious conviction, he said that he'd rather be forced to close his business down than "be forced to do something that violates my conscience."
□ Dress: Cakes aren't the only trouble. After trying on a dress in a New Jersey bridal salon, lesbian bride Alix Genter was called by the shop owner and told that her business was no longer welcome. When Donna of Here Comes the Bride in Somers Point saw that Genter had crossed out "groom" on an informational sheet and written "partner" instead, she contacted Genter with her decision. "There's right and there's wrong," she said, "and this is wrong."
□ Flowers: Most recently, a beloved flower shop in the state of Washington, one that Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed had frequented for years, refused to do the flowers for their wedding after marriage equality passed in the November election. "I can't do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ," owner Baronelle Stutzman told the couple. Her shop has been open for almost 40 years, and this is the first wedding she has declined.
□ Photographer: You might want to consider bringing your own camera. Elane Photography is a New Mexico-based company co-owned by Elaine Huguenin, a devout Christian woman who refused to photograph a commitment ceremony after realizing that the couple is gay.
And the list goes on and on:
□ Wedding venue: A Texas couple was denied a venue for their reception.
□ Honeymoon: Two men were asked to leave a bed and breakfast because of the owner's Christian beliefs.
□ Filing the paperwork: A New York town clerk said she'd do everything in her power to avoid ever signing a wedding license for a gay or lesbian couple.
□ Reception: The Boardwalk Pavilion, a public space run by the United Methodist Church in Ocean Grove, N.J., banned same-sex couples from renting the property for a ceremony.
You get the point: The troll has moved from under the bridge to cake shops and bridal salons. While many local businesses are amazingly supportive of their LGBT clients, there are some people out there who are trying to sabotage your joy by hiding behind so-called "religious liberty" to legitimate their insensitivity, and a new report from Public Research Associates, released this month, documents this growing phenomenon. But fear not, dear lovebird: We're on to them. Baptizing discrimination does not make it holy.
As the Supreme Court of the United States hears marriage cases this week, get involved to show your support for legal equality for gay and lesbian couples. Check out glaad.org/marriage for more information, and to locate an event in your area. Finding love is hard. Celebrating it shouldn't be.
This blog post originally appeared on GLAAD's blog.
Follow Todd Clayton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/todd_clayton