A photographer in Florida says he lost a client after he showed his support online for marriage equality. His response to the situation has won him legions of fans.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide last week, Clinton Brentwood Lee of Brentwood Photography took to Facebook to show his support for the decision, changing his profile picture and cover photo.
Lee says a client later contacted him to say that they would no longer be “using [his] services” for their upcoming wedding.
“My fiancé and I support traditional marriage between a man and a woman and don’t want to our money going to places that supports otherwise [sic],” the client allegedly wrote.
The photographer shared a screenshot of the exchange on Facebook Saturday, with the caption: “Lost a client for supporting gay marriage. But that's ok! We love everyone, even this now former client who may not have liked our reply. Lol.”
This was Lee’s full response to the client:
Wow, I’m not really sure what to say here. I would say this disappoints me, but I actually find this to be a good thing because our company now would now not like to work with you as well.
It’s not that because you have a different view from us, but it’s because, since you don’t like an support gay marriage, no one else should be able to have it. That’s like me not liking broccoli, and demanding that everyone else in the world should not have broccoli either! If you’re not in favor of gay marriage that’s fine, don’t marry a woman.
Personally, I was taught not to judge others and to love everyone else. So I will try not to judge you here and say anything more as to my opinion of you.
At Brentwood Photography we see love in all forms. Now as far as your retainer goes, I hope you’ll read the first article in the contract you signed stating that this retainer is nonrefundable.
But don’t you worry, I’m not going to keep it!
Because of this conversation, I have decided to donate your $1500 to GLAAD [the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation], a group created to help and support gay rights.
So let me be the first to say [redacted], thank you very much for your donation and support for this great cause!
I couldn’t have done it without your money.
Sincerely and with Love,
The Facebook post has since been liked more than 58,000 times, with scores of netizens praising the photographer for choosing principle over profit.
Lee told Buzzfeed that he’s also received his fair share of hate mail.
“I think it’s truly beautiful the amount of positive messages and words of encouragement I have received, it is been about 90 percent positive and 10 percent gut wrenching sad personal attacks,” he said. “The hate that comes out of these people’s mouths make me want to cry, but the 90 percent give me the strength to stay strong and not doubt what I did.”
The photographer added that he’s been called a “crook” for not returning the money to the client. He stressed, however, that they signed a contract clearly stating that the deposit was non-refundable.
“The retainer is paid for and there to protect us,” he told Buzzfeed, adding that the client responded to his message with the words: “Companies like yours are the reason our country is falling apart… Good luck with the queers, ASSHOLE!”
Ultimately, Lee says he’s “happy I took a stand.”
There’s just one thing he wishes he could change.
“The only thing I wish I had changed … is where it says I support ‘Gay Marriage,’” he wrote on Instagram Sunday. “While I 100 percent do, I wish I had just said that I support marriage opportunity for all. We shouldn't have to call it ‘gay marriage’ like it is something different. It's just marriage. Like it is between a man or a woman or a black person and a white person. Every person on this planet deserves their own happy ever after, even if it is different from your view of it.”