By Tony Perkins
When Lana Rusev fled Ukraine, she was trying to avoid the religious persecution she’s now experiencing in Florida! The wedding planner, the latest in a long string of Christian targets, is watching with horror as the hostility she had once seen in Eastern Europe followed her to America, courtesy of Jacksonville’s radical LGBT community. Obviously when she saw the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your yearning to violate your conscience’ wasn’t what the Ukranian had in mind.
For more than two decades, Lana has been adjusting to her life in the U.S. — but she never dreamed that adjustment would include an assault to the very freedoms she came here seeking. When she started her business, Simply Elegant Wedding Planning, Lana was anxious to help area brides and grooms celebrate their big day by coordinating the smallest of details. So when a lesbian couple approached the Christian consultant, the thought of being intimately involved in every stage of planning for a ceremony that conflicted with her faith was a non-starter.
In a polite letter to Melissa McCord and her partner, Rusev explained that not only was there a conflict with the dates — but with her conscience. “After checking our booked events I have discovered that we are booked on the 30th and 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 do not take this personally. I am really sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.”
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That enraged the couple, who took familiar revenge: launching a full-scale social media assault against the company. Within hours, Lana was inundated with threats and negative business reviews. But it’ll take a lot more than harassment to scare off Rusev. “I understand that they may be hurt, but there are other wedding planners who are okay with doing this,” she told the local newspaper. “Take your business elsewhere.”
Although she isn’t sorry, she is disappointed in her new country. Being bullied for her faith isn’t exactly what she envisioned when she immigrated to the “free world.” “This takes me back to about 26 years ago when my family and I fled from a country that persecuted people for their belief.” Like so many Americans, Lana says, “I believe people should be able to choose how they live their life. But for me, because of my personal belief, I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.”
Unfortunately, the Left no longer believes in “live and let live” — they prefer “live and force compliance.” But of course, the extremists who are trying to redefine marriage try to rebuff the opposition by arguing, “How does my same-sex marriage affect your marriage?” Well, it may not affect their marital vows, but it sure impacts their family when they’re fined, forced out of business, or lose their home simply for following their moral conscience. “If I hurt anyone, I apologize,” Lana explained, “but that is my personal belief. We all are entitled to our beliefs.”
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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