A California-based graphic artist and Etsy shop owner refused to create a guestbook cover for two lesbian brides, but only after exchanging several emails and "praying" about the issue with her pastor, reports Queerty.
Jami Howard told Queerty that her email exchanges with Jessica Fong, listed as the owner for the now-defunct Pale Designs store on indie crafting site Etsy.com, were quite pleasant until Howard revealed that her future spouse is also a woman. After a prolonged silence, Howard found this note from Fong in her inbox:
Sorry for the late reply!
After talking with my pastor and praying about the situation, I decided that I shouldn’t design your guestbook for you.
Please know that I did take this into much thought though. Because I am a Christian and I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, I feel that designing a customized guestbook for you two will be against my belief and will mean that who I am and my business supports gay marriages.
I hope that you understanding [sic]. Sorry for staying in contact with you for so long and not giving you a concrete response until now."
Howard liked Fong's images of happy couples adorned with Disney characters and Mickey Mouse ears, but told Queerty she was shocked at the sudden change in tone when she outed herself.
"I was completely outraged at the fact that I was 'seemingly' having a pleasant conversation with this shop owner about creating an image to be a part of our guest book," Howard told Queerty via email. "The first couple of messages I sent were just talking about how excited we were because we both love Disney and this theme looked perfect for our special day, with some minor changes. When I dropped the 'Gay' bomb, things completely changed. I just wonder if there is anything that Etsy.com itself has to say about this kind of discrimination. If sexual orientation can be discriminated against on Etsy, what other kinds of discrimination are they also okay with shop owners getting away with? Also, newsflash: Disney loves the gays. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. Etsy provided no outlet for us to leave a comment or anything like that so [my fiancé Lindsay and I] took to the Facebook."
Pale Designs' page on Etsy has been removed, but the designer's Facebook page remains live, though it has been recently inundated with comments criticizing Fong's discriminatory practices.
Fong's website for Pale Designs says the owner is a 22-year-old 2011 graduate of the University of California at Irvine, whose "desire is to share who God is and His love through art, which God has graciously given me."