One couple's vision of a perfect wedding came to a halt when a Jacksonville wedding photographer refused to provide photos for the wedding because of their sexual orientation.
Billy Thornton and Andrew Wells have been together for 10 years and say they have always dreamed about their wedding day.
But when they reached out to Name Sake Pictures to inquire about wedding photography, they were met with opposition.
"This felt like an attempt to ridicule and shame us while pointing out the fact that we are such horrific sinners in need of their prayers," Thornton said on Facebook.
According to screenshots of conversations between the couple and Name Sake Pictures, the company refused services to the couple based on their religious ideology.
"...Thank you for letting me know you are a same-sex couple," the message says. "As a born-again Christian, saved through Jesus out of homosexuality, I have to say I have a conviction for engaging in a celebration that the Lord condemns. When Jesus saves us from our sins he gives us a new heart. We become a new creation in Him to worship Him and desire to obey His commandments not perfectly but gradually. Though I know that I may not hear back from you, Billy, I pray that you choose to repent and serve Christ and surrender to His rightens will for you and Andrew. He cares enough to use Thumbtack to have me address this with you. I will be praying for you and Andrew."
Thornton posted the exchange on his Facebook page saying, "I want to respond, as we have had an ongoing conversation for quite a while now, but I am EXTREMELY offended at the same time."
He says that if the company had politely declined their business, he would have moved on, but Thornton says the way it was handled that bothers him.
"Anything short and sweet, just to let me know that thats something they can't do, but this three-page paragraph that they responded with was like, very condescending..." says Thornton.
In a statement (seen below), the company said that they never agreed to render services to the couple and that they were holding firm in their decision.
Mauricio Belgrano, the owner Name Sake Pictures, stated he too had once identified as gay but became a born again Christian and his beliefs prohibited from taking pictures for same-sex couples.
Full Statement from Name Sake Pictures:
"... I am a born again Christian. And yes, I did not agree to render services to them as I addressed him that I was a former homosexual who became a Christian and no longer practice that lifestyle nor wish to use my talent to promote it.
Belgrano spoke to First Coast News in person on Tuesday and said, "I've been in their shoes and so as a private business owner, I believe that I have the right to do that," referring to denying his services.
He says he's received threatening phone calls and negative reviews since responding to the couple's request and has denied services to other gay couples.
However, he said he would be willing to meet with Thornton and Wells to talk over their differences. "I think as a Christian, it's critical for us to be at the forefront of this, of what we call a battle, which is more spiritual than anything," he said.