JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A lesbian couple tells First Coast News they were taken off guard when a local wedding planner told them in a letter, that due to her personal beliefs she could not plan their wedding.
When Melissa McCord posted the letter on social media dozens of comments were posted to the business' Facebook page. People were outraged that McCord was refused service due to her sexuality.
The letter from Simply Elegant Wedding Planning reads:
"After checking our booked events I have discovered that we are booked on the 30th & 31st and unfortunately are not able to take additional events for the weekend. Also, due to my strong personal belief I do not feel comfortable planning a wedding for lesbian couples. I hope you understand and not take this personally. I am really sorry for the inconvenience this may cause."
First Coast News contacted the family owned business and Lana Rusev, who wrote the letter to the McCords, and she says she's standing firm on her decision.
"I understand that they may be hurt, but there are other wedding planners who are ok with doing this," said Rusev. "Take your business elsewhere."
Rusev, a native of Ukraine says she feels bullied by the comments left on the company's Facebook page.
"This takes me back to about 26 years ago when my family and I fled from a country that persecuted people for their belief."
A Christian, Rusev says she's not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.
"I believe people should be able to choose how they live their life," said Rusev. "But for me because of my personal belief I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman."
"Just send me an email and let me know you were overbooked," said McCord. "Don't throw your belief in my face that you won't do it because of what we are. My money is just as green as everybody else's."
After four years and two children, Melissa and Jennifer McCord were able to marry in Hemming Park on January 10, among about 60 other couples. But they have plans for their own wedding event later this year.
"Our plan is to get married on October 30th," said Mccord. "We just wanted to have someone help us along. It's a big day for us. And it's finally legal so we wanted to have a nice event for family and friends to celebrate with us."
Rusev says Simply Elegant Wedding Planning is her family business, it's been her passion for the past eight years.
And despite the negative backlash, she refuses to plan weddings for same-sex couples.
"I can't help but take it personal," said McCord. "That was the first time I had ever to my face been discriminated against and it was kind of hurtful."
"If I hurt anyone I apologize, but that is my personal belief," said Rusev. "We all are entitled to our beliefs."
McCord says there's a Facebook group page for lesbians that lists local business that are not LGBT friendly, she plans to add Simply Elegant Wedding Planning to that list.