After saving for over a year and planning down the last detail for the wedding day of their dreams, a same-sex couple in North Carolina were devastated when their videographer ghosted on them as they made their way down the aisle.
For 14 months Clarissa and Teegan Templeton each worked two jobs to save up for their dream wedding at a scenic farm in North Carolina. Having done their research, they booked the venue, the photographer, the flowers, and a videographer through Tolman Media.
Clarissa told the News Observer that in all of their planning, the couple was careful to search for LGBTQ-friendly companies
But on the big day, the videographer decided to abandon the gig moments before the ceremony was to begin without saying a word to anyone.
Clarissa Templeton says she discovered Tolman Media on Instagram and made the booking through the company’s South Carolina branch in June 2020 for their April 3 wedding.
The company has several branches across the U.S. and reportedly contracts with many videographers.
The couple says they were in email contact with the camera man, Seth Curl, via email leading up to the big day.
Capturing the happy moment on video was especially important to the couple since, with the ongoing COVID pandemic, many family members and friends weren’t able to attend. Teegan and Clarissa hoped a video to share with loved ones would be the next-best thing.
Teegan, who arrived at the venue first, recalls seeing the videographer early on. But as the ceremony began, Clarissa realized he was no where to be found amid the crowd of attendees.
“I had a mini panic attack,” Clarissa shared with Insider. “I started to panic in my head and told myself maybe he ran to the car or had some technical difficulty.”
She added, “I refused to let myself focus on it anymore and put 110% of my focus on Teegan in that moment we were sharing together. I wanted to be in that moment.”
Following the ceremony, the couple began to take their wedding pictures with their photographer (hired separately from Tolman Media). When Clarissa asked the photographer if she knew anything about the videographer’s disappearance, the photographer paused before answering, “He left.”
During this time, the couple’s wedding planner, Ashley Hansen, scrambled to contact Curl via phone. He reportedly told Hansen he left because “of his faith and that he didn’t feel comfortable because it’s a same-sex marriage.”
Ultimately, Hansen tracked down the folks at the South Carolina office of Tolman Media who dispatched another videographer to the event. According to a Facebook post by Clarissa, the company promised to “refund the entirety of our money and give us the footage this new videographer was going to capture for FREE.”
By that time, even though the wedding was winding down, the brides went about recreating some of their big day. But, as Clarissa explained, it felt “fake” to the couple.
Fortunately, the couple’s photographer was able to capture the joyous moments via still photography.
The Templetons reached out to Tolman Media following the wedding requesting the previously mentioned refund, but it wasn’t until Clarissa posted her story to Facebook that she heard back from Tolman. At that point, Tolman Media issued a full refund and said the videographer was no longer employed by the company.
Ben Hillyard, president of Tolman Media, also issued a statement saying, “We at Tolman Media hold discrimination and discriminatory behavior as a very serious offense against individuals. We do not tolerate it within our organization.”
“Tolman Media is not this videographer,” added Hillyard. “The opinions and beliefs of this videographer do not represent our beliefs or our track record in any way shape or form.”
Hillyard also told Insider that moving forward he will ensure all branches are “fully aware” of the company’s nondiscrimination policy. And – future contractors will be required to be transparent about being available to work on same-sex weddings. And if they refuse, the company will not work with them.
Two weeks after the wedding, the Templetons received an email from Curl.
“On April 3, I did something that I have never done, nor ever had to do before,” wrote the videographer as reported by the News Observer. “Because of my faith and what I support, I made the decision to leave and not film Clarissa and Teegan’s wedding day.”
He added that he knew abandoning his assignment “would have severe consequences” and that his unannounced departure “ruined a beautiful wedding and left so many heart broken (sic).”
While Curl did apologize to the couple, he added, “This destroys me that I’ve ended up in a position where I am getting so many people saying so many negative things about me, my life, my career, and my beliefs.”
At the end of the day, the couple who did everything they thought possible to avoid such LGBTQ discrimination on their wedding day say they hope others don’t have to have the same experience.
“The last thing we would ever want is for anyone to go through this again,” Clarissa explained to Insider. “It is our wish to do everything we can to ensure that no other couple has to endure the heartache we are left trying to cope with. What happened to us isn’t rare.”
Another gay couple denied service by a business because of the owners’ beliefs in the “sanctity of marriage.”
Local news station WTVD in North Carolina reports a gay couple approached the Highgrove Estate in Fuquay-Varina for their upcoming nuptials but were turned away after the owners became aware they were a gay couple.
Ironically, the venue purports to offer “the best of Southern hospitality.”
McCae Henderson, an attorney, and Ike Edwards, a cosmetic dentist, told WDTV they filled out an inquiry form for the venue. In the spots where they were to identify the ‘bride’ and ‘groom,’ they left a note saying they were both grooms.
The Christian-owned estate sent a reply saying they don’t host same-sex weddings and offered a list of alternative venues.
The rejection was “disheartening,” said Henderson. “We had not had anything like this throughout the process or really in our lives.”
“This is us. We are gay and we did not choose to be gay,” he continued. “The fact that we don’t have access to things other people do is discrimination in my eyes. I think everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe to an extent. I don’t think you get to be racist because your religion tells you to be racist. I don’t think you get to be homophobic because your religion tells you to be homophobic.”
“Highgrove has always welcomed vendors, guests and employees of all orientations and we do not discriminate against a people or group,” read a statement from the Highgrove owners released to WTVD. “We believe in the sanctity of marriage as God says in the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman and we choose to honor Him above what the world decides what marriage should be.”
So, two things.
One, they are discriminating against “people or a group.” They refuse to treat LGBTQ people the same as heterosexual people.
Two, in citing the “sanctity of marriage” I’d like to know if they’ve ever hosted the wedding of someone who’s been divorced? Cause….that’s a sin in the Bible that’s directly connected to the “sanctity of marriage.” This is just more picking and choosing parts of the Bible that support their bias.
While there are federal civil rights laws that protect against discrimination – based on race, color, creed, religion, sex and national origin – there are no such protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.
And in North Carolina, some local ordinances have passed protections against LGBTQ discrimination, but not in Highgrove’s jurisdiction.
The Equality Act – which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal civil rights laws – recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. But the legislation faces an extremely steep climb in the U.S. Senate where Democrats would need 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster blocking the bill from a vote.
• Brody Watch: Just to let you know – we are soooooooo safe thanks to our fearless pup (above). Brody has no fear it seems other than not getting enough attention 🙂
• NBC News: Lawmakers in North Carolina have introduced a bill that would prevent doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery for anyone under 21. Senate Bill 514 would also compel state employees to notify parents if their child displays “gender nonconformity” or expresses a desire to be treated in a way other than the gender they were assigned at birth.
• USA Today: First lady Jill Biden, the military mom in the White House, is working with Joining Forces which helps military and veteran families, caregivers and survivors get the support they need. After weeks of listening sessions with military families, Biden said her priorities will focus on employment and entrepreneurship, military child education and health and well-being.
• Daily Beacon: A Tennessee lawmaker has proposed a bill that would prohibit the use of any materials in schools that, in the language of the bill, “promote, normalize, support or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) issues or lifestyles.” Opponents say erasing LGBTQ people from history books would send the message to queer kids that they arent’ “normal.”
• CNN: At least one of the Capitol riot defendants has flipped against the Proud Boys, agreeing to provide information that could allow the Justice Department to bring a more severe charge against the group’s leadership. The development is the first indication that people charged in the insurrection are cooperating against the pro-Trump extremist group.
• Instagram: Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman is the first-ever poet to grace the cover of Vogue Magazine – and when I say ‘grace’….I mean GRACE. #gorgeous
The second piece of legislation would put into place statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
The third bill would outlaw so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ the dangerous pseudo-science that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
And the fourth bill would prohibit the use of the ‘gay panic’ or ‘trans panic’ defense in legal cases which attempts to justify killing or harming someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“No one should worry that they can’t buy a home because of who they love or be denied a haircut or a hotel room because of their gender identity,” Rep. Vernetta Alston (D-District 29) told the local ABC News affiliate.
Kendra Johnson of Equality NC added, “For too long LGBTQ North Carolinians have lived in the shadow of archaic and outdated laws that impact everyone in our community.”
Lawmakers say they are ‘hopeful’ the bills have momentum to pass, but I’ll note that the Republican-controlled state legislature hasn’t previously given queer people much to believe in.
• Pink News: A gay man has shared a list of the top 10 bizarre, offensive things people have said to him and his husband since they became dads. “Which of you is the real dad?”
• Hulu: Grammy Award nominee Andra Day looks like she’s on the verge of next-level stardom as bisexual jazz legend Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, directed by Oscar winner Lee Daniels. Premieres February 26 on Hulu.
• Washington Blade: President-elect Joe Biden will have his hands full upon his inauguration next week with coronavirus cases surging and impeachment proceedings in Congress, which may complicate his efforts to act on campaign promises to the LGBTQ community, especially signing the Equality Act into law with 100 days.
• The Gaily Grind: An ultra-Orthodox rabbi in Israel has reportedly urged his followers not to get the potentially lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines because it might “turn them” gay.
• Variety: Actor Brendan Fraser will star in the film adaptation of the critically acclaimed Samuel D. Hunter Broadway play The Whale about a 600-pound middle-aged man who turns to compulsive eating out of grief from losing his lover.
• Equality NC: The Town Council of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has approved an ordinance broadly protecting members of the LGBTQ community from discrimination. The victory comes in the same week that Hillsborough, NC and Carrboro, NC passed similar ordinances. Municipalities regained the freedom to pass such measures on December 1, 2020, following the expiration of a key prong of HB142.
• OUT: One half of the real-life gay couple in that Cadbury ad (above) clapped back at critics of the spot – “I’m sure there would be half as many complaints if it was two ‘beautiful’ cisgendered hetero-looking Caucasian women. Get your act together world: y’all are as hypocritical and uneducated and bizarre as Donald Trump.”
• NowThis News: “Knock the crap out of ’em, would you? I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees” — Watch this report on how Donald Trump has been inciting violence from his supporters for years.
• LGBTQ Nation: An 18-year-old lesbian who says she has been kicked out of her home for being gay has outed her Trump-loving family members who participated in the violent altercation in D.C. last week.
• New York Times: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told associates that he believes Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking.
• NBC News: Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Steven D’Antuono, head of the FBI’s Washington field office, briefed reporters on the sprawling criminal investigation designed to catch those who took part in the violent Capitol insurrection last week. They said that the FBI had opened 160 case files, and that “this is only the beginning.”
BREAKING: DOJ says “we’re looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy,” charges that have prison terms of up to 20 years.
• News Observer: LGBTQ people in North Carolina can no longer be prevented from getting domestic violence protective orders, the N.C. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. North Carolina had been the only state in the country to withhold emergency protections from people seeking protection from abuse by a same-sex partner.
• Instinct Magazine: My editor at my other journalistic home, Adam Dupuis, shares this wild and wooly tale of a stalker who utilized 11 different email accounts and numerous Growlr accounts in order to cyberstalk him. #strangeness
• 54Below: My fabulous friend (and Tony Award nominee) Norm Lewis has the perfect song for tonight – from his recent Feinstein’s/54 Below streaming concert NORM LEWIS: Christmastime Is Here!
• Facebook: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) wrote a lengthy breakdown of efforts to undermine the election, concluding there was no evidence of voter fraud. Sasse adds that – in private chats – no Republicans in Congress think the election was stolen.
• NBC News: Grafton Police have arrested the Aurora Health Care pharmacist who intentionally spoiled more than 500 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine valued around $8,000 to $11,000. He has been arrested on charges of first degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property.
• Washington Examiner: Donald Trump promised in the 2016 campaign to eliminate the federal debt over a two-term presidency. Instead, he will leave office having added massively to the debt. Since his inauguration, the total national debt has increased 30% from nearly $20 trillion to $27 trillion as of Monday.
.@realDonaldTrump promised in the 2016 campaign to eliminate the federal debt over a two-term presidency.
That pledge won’t come to fruition, and, in fact, he will leave office having added massively to the debt.https://t.co/sd7nPlQ3BC