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Wedding planner: I will stand my ground and not be bullied
By Michael F. Haverluck
Despite negative business reviews and unfair treatment by the media after turning away a lesbian couple, a Christian wedding planner in Florida is vowing to stand for what she believes and not be bullied.
More than 26 years ago, Lana Rusev left Ukraine to escape the very religious persecution she is now being subjected to as a wedding planner in Florida, thanks to the recent legalization of same-sex "marriage" in that state.
Because of her sincerely held religious belief that marriage is only between one man and one woman, Rusev has been targeted by homosexual activists striving to tear her business down after she declined to service a lesbian wedding.
"The wedding planner, the latest in a long string of Christian targets, is watching with horror as the hostility she had once seen in Eastern Europe followed her to America, courtesy of Jacksonville's radical LGBT community," Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins proclaimed. "Obviously when she saw the Statue of Liberty, Give me your tired, your poor, your yearning to violate your conscience wasn't what the Ukrainian had in mind."
In 2008, the Florida law protecting man-woman marriage was voted into place through the democratic process by more than five-million Floridians. But once a judge's ruling undermined that statute last August, Rusev's dream of religious freedom came to an abrupt end, as she has quickly learned that LGBT "rights" trump her freedom to run her business according to her Christian beliefs.
"When she started her business, Simply Elegant Wedding Planning, Lana was anxious to help area brides and grooms celebrate their big day by coordinating the smallest of details," Perkins explained. "So when a lesbian couple approached the Christian consultant, the thought of being intimately involved in every stage of planning for a ceremony that conflicted with her faith was a non-starter."
Does same-sex 'marriage' cancel out religious freedom?
Believing that cordially declining to plan a same-sex wedding was well within her right as a business owner, Rusev wrote a very respectful letter to a lesbian couple who requested her services. She politely explained in the brief note that she would not be able to offer her services due to a conflict in her schedule and her conscience.
"After checking our booked events I have discovered that we are booked on the 30th and 31st and unfortunately are not able to take additional events for the weekend," Rusev explained in writing to Melissa McCord and her lesbian partner. "Also, due to my strong personal belief, I do not feel comfortable planning a wedding for lesbian couples."
Rusev even went out of her way to clarify that her decision was nothing personal and followed her explanation with a sincere apology. "I hope you understand and do not take this personally," Rusev implored the couple. "I am really sorry for the inconvenience this may cause."
FRC says the lesbian couple's reaction was consistent with that of other same-sex couples toward Christian business owners who politely inform homosexual couples that their consciences will not allow them to offer same-sex wedding services.
"That enraged the couple, who took familiar revenge: launching a full-scale social media assault against the company," FRC reported. "Within hours, Lana was inundated with threats and negative business reviews."
Despite that reaction in the name of "tolerance" and "marriage equality," Rusev would not cave in to the ultimatum given by the LGBT community: to offer services or close up shop.
"I understand that they may be hurt, but there are other wedding planners who are okay with doing this," the faithful wedding planner told the Jacksonville newspaper, First Coast News. "Take your business elsewhere."
Rusev has no regrets about standing up for her faith, but has become disillusioned in a country that was established so that immigrants wouldn't have to experience the kind of religious intolerance she is now expected to endure in the Sunshine State.
"This takes me back to about 26 years ago when my family and I fled from a country that persecuted people for their belief," Rusev shared. "I believe people should be able to choose how they live their life. But for me, because of my personal belief, I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman."
FRC's Perkins points out the hypocrisy of homosexual activists who proclaim themselves to be a discriminated-against group that doesn't tell others how to live their lives … a group that just wants to be left alone.
"Unfortunately, the Left no longer believes in 'live and let live' — they prefer 'live and force compliance,'" Perkins argues. "But of course, the extremists who are trying to redefine marriage try to rebuff the opposition by arguing How does my same-sex marriage affect your marriage? Well, it may not affect their marital vows, but it sure impacts their family when they're fined, forced out of business, or lose their home simply for following their moral conscience."
Rusev assures those who oppose her views that her intentions were not to offend anyone, but just to live out her beliefs according to her faith in the God of the Bible.
"If I hurt anyone, I apologize, but that is my personal belief," Rusev concluded. "We all are entitled to our beliefs."
Huntington Beach News