Bailey and Samantha Brazzel were married last July, and the Indiana couple planned to file their taxes jointly last week for the first time. But their visit to the tax preparer did not go as planned.
"We thought it was just a boring trip to the tax office, but it turned into a lot more than that," Samantha Brazzel told NBC affiliate WTHR.
The tax preparer Bailey Brazzel had used for the past four years refused to work with the two women on religious grounds.
"We went in there and sat down just like we always would, and then she said, 'How are you filing this year?,' and I said 'married joint,' and that's when it went downhill," Bailey Brazzel said.
Nancy Fivecoate, owner of Carter Tax Service in Russiaville, Indiana, told WTHR the problem was not the Brazzels' “being gay — it’s being married.”
“I have prepared her taxes for several years,” Fivecoate said of Bailey Brazzel in a statement shared with WTHR. “This year she came in with her wife and I declined to prepare the taxes because of my 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.”
Fivecoate then accused the Brazzels of “trying to destroy” her business. She said she has received harassing calls and emails since the couple shared their story publicly.
The Brazzels said they are speaking out to draw attention to the lack of LGBTQ protections in Indiana. While several cities across the state have passed ordinances protecting residents from being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, there is no statewide law preventing discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“I don’t need anyone to agree with my lifestyle or things that I do,” Bailey Brazzel said. “But if you’re going to run a business, you should be able to work with all types of people.”