Bailey Brazzel and her wife Samantha weren't trying to make a political statement last week. They were just trying to file their taxes.
But when the owner of a Russiaville tax service refused to help because the same-sex couple was married, Brazzel said she felt she had to speak out.
"I went in there to have my taxes done, not push my beliefs on her," Brazzel, 25, said. "It's not professional to me to turn someone away because they do something differently than you would like."
Nancy Fivecoate, owner of Carter Tax Service, said she's been harassed and abused after Brazzel spoke to media and posted on Facebook about her experience. Fivecoate said she is the one being persecuted for her beliefs. "I've never repeated her name to anyone ... I haven't answered social media," Fivecoate told IndyStar during a phone conversation. "I've done absolutely nothing except (follow) my religious beliefs. I can not put my name on that return."
This is the latest skirmish in a culture war ignited by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. There have been controversies involving cake bakers, pizza makers and now a tax preparer who have refused to serve same-sex couples based on the religious beliefs of business owners and employees. That's allowed under state law, unless a local ordinance says otherwise.
Brazzel said Fivecoate has prepared her taxes for the last four years. She and Samantha married in July. This is the first year they filed a joint tax return. On Tuesday the couple went to Fivecoate's office and she turned them away.
Steve Sanders, associate professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, called the dispute a "symptom of the larger controversy surrounding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act." Read more via Indy Star