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Suwanee business refuses to print gay wedding invitation | News

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Suwanee business refuses to print gay wedding invitation
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SUWANEE, Ga. -- A Suwanee company has refused to print wedding invitations for a gay couple bringing a national debate to metro Atlanta's backyard.

The owner of the local Alpha Graphics franchise, Alan Akins says he declined the job because of his religious beliefs.

Paige Beckwith says throughout her wedding planning process she has been open with vendors that there would be two brides on the wedding day.

She says none of the vendors seemed to care, but him.

Beckwith says she contacted the company after being referred by a friend. They were trying to go with a train theme. Their engagement photos, taken by Snap Shots By Allie, were on railroad tracks. Their reception would be at an old train depot in Lawrenceville. They wanted the invitations to look like a train ticket, so she needed a company that could design and print them.

"The owner called me back and let me know that he's not going to print our invitations because he does not support same sex marriage," said Beckwith.

"I kept asking him how, why, how he could do this? He just basically stood on his religious beliefs, referenced the Bible, called it a sin, and I was basically in tears saying how could you treat me this way?," she recalled.

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Akins declined to talk on camera and only spoke briefly with 11Alive's Rebecca Lindstrom by phone, confirming he had denied the job.

Akins said he would have printed other things for the couple, just not wedding invitations. He also said he had declined other kinds of print jobs on religious grounds.

11Alive legal analyst Philip Holloway says he has that legal right.

"Under Georgia law businesses do have the right to say I'm not going to do business with this sort of couple," said Holloway.

The Suwanee Alpha Graphics is a franchise, so Beckwith took her complaint to the company's main office, which apologized and offered to design and print her invitations at no charge.

A company spokesperson also released this statement:

We do not condone discrimination of any kind, and wish to make clear that customers of any race, religion, nationality, ethnicity or sexual orientation are welcome at our franchisees' locations nationwide.

We also wish to apologize to the customers who were impacted by the actions of this franchisee, and hope that our response conveys the level of commitment we feel toward upholding our company's standards of inclusion, and that all members of the Suwanee community continue to feel welcome at AlphaGraphics.

It's the type of decision that has made headlines in other states. Bakeries that wouldn't sell gay couples a wedding cake. A pizza place that announced it wouldn't cater gay weddings.

Protests have also centered around legislation to protect religious freedoms. Even in Georgia proposed legislation divided churches and civil rights groups. Many insisted instances such as this would happen if such a bill passed.

Holloway says Georgia's bill wouldn't have made a difference in this situation.

"It has nothing to do with private businesses whatsoever, it deals with actions involving the government," explained Holloway.

The bill sponsor, Senator Josh McKoon echoed the sentiment on Friday, promising he would continue to push for its passage next year. Last weekend, when the state's 14 district conventions met, 11 of them approved a resolution in a show of support.

The parent company of AlphaGraphics has set up a hotline and email for anyone with a concern or suggestion regarding customer service:

For anyone with a concern or suggestion regarding customer service at AlphaGraphics, we urge you to call our customer hotline at 877-879-2793, or email us at agcares@alphagraphics.com.

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