A tax accountant who denied a same-sex married couple service is grumbling that her business is being destroyed by a smear campaign.
Bailey Brezzel has been utilizing Carter’s Tax Service in Russiaville, Indiana, for the past five years, however, on Tuesday, when she and her new wife Samantha went to file their 2018 taxes with owner Nancy Fivecoate, they were allegedly turned away, according to the Indy Star.
“Nancy asked if I was filing single this year and when I answered, ‘Married jointly’ she said, ‘Oh no, I can’t do that — it’s against my Christian beliefs,'” Bailey, 25, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Bailey says that Fivecoate filed her taxes during a 2018 appointment at which she introduced Samantha as her then-girlfriend. “I don’t understand it,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Nancy said she files tax returns for gay clients but only if they’re not married.”
Fivecoate did not reply to Yahoo Lifestyle’s interview request. She told the Indy Star that she has been victimized by the couple. “I’ve never repeated her name to anyone … I haven’t answered social media. I’ve done absolutely nothing except (follow) my religious beliefs. I cannot put my name on that return.”
“I am a Christian and I believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” Fivecoate said. “The LGBT want respect for their beliefs, which I give them. I did not say anything about their lifestyle. That is their choice. It is not my choice. Where is their respect for my beliefs?”
Fivecoate, who owns Carter Tax Service, told the Indianapolis news station RTV6 in a statement that she declined to prepare Bailey’s taxes because of religious beliefs. “I am a Christian and I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. I was very respectful to them. I told them where I thought she might be able to get her taxes prepared,” she said. “For many years I have had several gay clients. I still have gay clients. A few years ago, I had a couple of gay clients that married. When it was time to prepare their taxes they called me and asked if I had a problem since they were married. I told them that as a Christian that I could not prepare their taxes. I thanked them for calling and wished them well.”
The statement continued, “The LGBT want respect for their beliefs, which I give them. I did not say anything about their lifestyle. That is their choice. It is not my choice.” Fivecoate went on to ask where for respect for her beliefs as well: “I am not trying to destroy them by dragging them through social media. Why are they trying to destroy my business? I have made no comment on social media. Where is their respect for me and my beliefs?”
Bailey and Samantha left Fivecoate’s office and went to H&R Block, where they filed their taxes. “The employees were nice and even apologized for what happened to us,” Bailey tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
In 2015, then governor and current Vice President Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allowing companies to use their religious beliefs as a defense in lawsuits filed by private parties, according to the American Bar Association. (Indiana adopted its version of the law from a 1991 federal one by the same name and signed by then-president Bill Clinton). As explained by the Indy Star, the law can’t touch certain ordinances in Indiana with anti-discrimination policies in place, however Russiaville is not one of them.
Bailey tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Fivecoate behaved within her rights, however, she’d like to see the laws changed. “We really want to shed light on this — we’re speaking up for people who can’t.”