A Co. Louth printing firm refused to print same-sex wedding invites for a long-time customer earlier this week. Beulah Print cite their Christian beliefs as the reason for the refusal, explaining that they “don’t agree with homosexuality.”
Jonathon Brennan, a hairdresser from Drogheda, is set to wed John Kierans, his partner of eight years, this August. Beulah Print had initially agreed to print the invites until they came to the decision that they could not do business with him because of his sexual orientation. Brennan has been a customer of the printing firm for the past four years.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Brennan said that the co-owner of the printers, Noel Tuite, agreed to print the invites but later visited his hairdressing salon to tell him “Myself and my business partner are devout Christians. We don’t believe in gay marriage, and we don’t agree with homosexuality. So in this instance, there’s a conflict of interest, and we won’t be able to do business with you.”
Since the story was initially reported earlier this week, a Co. Cork printer has offered to print the couple’s wedding invites for free. Coolgrey Design and Print, based in Cork City, announced “We at Coolgrey Design and Print would gladly come to their aid and print their invites free of charge.”
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Anthony Cotter, creative director at Coolgrey Design and Print continued, “We have the Cork Gay Pride Festival committee as a client and would find it disappointing if they as a group were handled in this manner.
“We hope they get sorted, it's 2015 and a person’s big day should be cherished no matter what their sexual orientation."
Beulah Print defended their decision to refuse to print the invites, issuing an official statement citing grounds of religious beliefs: "We, at Beulah Print, are Bible-believing Christians who are committed to standing by our conscience and God’s Word.
“We have been in business for 12 years during which time we have held to our convictions and have at times declined a variety of work which we felt was clearly contrary to our beliefs.
“We have never hidden our faith from our customers and represent the gospel at every opportunity.
“We are not against homosexuals, however, we do not support same sex marriage, which printing wedding invitations would do.”
The couple are currently seeking legal advice before making a decision on whether to lodge a complaint of discrimination against the firm. Brennan wishes that he had been aware of Beulah’s position against gay marriage before he became a customer four years ago.
Ireland is set to vote on same-sex marriage in a referendum in May. The proposal to be put to Irish voters on May 22 will be: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
This is not the first time that an Irish business has refused business due to their stand against same-sex marriage. In 2014, a Catholic bakery refused to bake a cake that would include a logo in support of marriage equality. It is also not the first time Beulah Print refused business because of their beliefs. Speaking to BBC News, co-owner Mike O’Leary said they had refused a request for another gay marriage and also refused to promote binge drinking, Halloween, anything they considered "borderline pornography" or anything referring to "the dark arts". The printing company was established after its owners O’Leary and Tuite met through Christian fellowship meetings in Drogheda.
The Irish American community has seen its own share controversy in the run up to the referendum with the long battle between LGBT groups and St. Patrick’s Day organizers once again coming to the fore of parade preparations. A Catholic school in Boston withdrew from the St. Patrick’s Day parade in protest to the involvement of openly gay groups.