Photographer Anne Almasy decided, after 10 years of shooting weddings, to purchase her first-ever printed ad, a half-page in Weddings Unveiled magazine. After calling and e-mailing back and forth with WU editors, she submitted the following ad:
Almasy wrote of her selection:
I could’ve chosen any number of lovely pictures of a smiling bride with her tuxedoed groom, or a clever detail shot of brooch bouquets and feather boutonnieres, or one of those dancing photos with the lens flare and the motion… but I wanted to publish a photo that says something about me as a photographer; about my philosophy; about my heart for photographing these momentous (and often wonderfully ridiculous) celebrations… I chose this picture because, to me, it says love. It says home. It says joy.
On the afternoon of Valentine’s Day, a WU editor contacted Almasy with the following comment:
“Is there possibly another photograph you’d like to use in your ad? We just don’t feel comfortable publishing an ad featuring a same-sex couple. These aren’t our personal beliefs, of course, but, you know…”
Stunned and disappointed by the rejection, Almasy penned an open letter to Weddings Unveiled, printed in full here, expressing her dismay and defending her selection:
I don’t shoot gay weddings or straight weddings, Christian weddings or Jewish weddings, good weddings or bad weddings. I photograph PEOPLE on their wedding day.
Are there people who might have been offended or put off by this ad? I’m sure there are. But this ad wasn’t for them. This ad was for people who love black and white photography; this ad was for people who love a portrait taken in a warehouse stacked with bags of coffee beans; this ad was for people who love big puffy dresses; this ad was for people who love love.
My heart breaks because you could not see that this couple’s wedding portrait is every bit as beautiful and valuable as any other couple’s.
My heart breaks because you could not see beyond your fear, and into the warmer, brighter future that WE are responsible for building.
Someone has to be first.
Someone has to forge ahead.
Someone has to march.
Someone has to refuse to move to the back of the bus.
Someone has to see these two beautiful, brilliant women in love and know that there is nothing more right in the world than this couple.
Dear, dear Weddings Unveiled, my heart breaks because you could not find it within yourself to be that someone.
Before we finished our last phone call, your editor told me, “I’m not saying we won’t ever publish a same-sex wedding. It just isn’t the right time.”
In Dr. King’s words:
The time is always right to do what’s right.
Terry Ireland and Brooke Thomas, the publishers of Weddings Unveiled, posted the following response to the magazine’s blog:
We hope that you will allow us the opportunity to address an important issue that has angered and disappointed many people. We are incredibly sad that same sex marriage is still an issue in our society. When we were faced with the decision of whether or not to publish Anne Almasy’s advertisement, we acted in a manner that does not reflect our personal beliefs. We truly believe that all love is beautiful and that all people have the right to marry. You might ask that if we feel that way, then why did we make this decision? Honestly, we knew that everyone would not share our belief that all people have the right to marry. The issue is very sensitive and it is also very divided. We knew that it was possible that people would be offended if we published the ad and we knew that it was possible that people would be offended if we did not. We are so sorry that we acted out of fear and uncertainty. We had never been faced with such a decision and we should have acted with our hearts.
We are two women who operate a small business that we care deeply about. We love all weddings. We love all people and would never want to anger, offend or disappoint anyone. We are deeply moved by the outpouring of love and support for Anne. We are so sorry that we have disappointed you and we ask for your forgiveness. If Anne would still like to run her ad in Weddings Unveiled, then we would be proud to publish it.
Almasy was moved to tears by the response:
I cannot tell you how completely stunned, humbled, and honored I am that you took the time to truly read my letter, and chose to side with your hearts. I couldn’t have imagined a better outcome. I hope you have recognized the vast community of support you will have for championing what is right and true. I will gladly stand with you in this fight for equality, and would be thrilled to move forward with this ad in Weddings Unveiled.