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NJ Bridal Shop Refused to Sell Wedding Dress to Lesbian Bride

Comstock/Thinkstock(SOMERS POINT, N.J.) -- Popular reality wedding shows such as "Say Yes to the Dress" depict how emotionally trying the purchase of a wedding dress can be, but Alix Genter found that out for herself when she was refused her dream dress from a New Jersey bridal boutique.

Genter, a graduate student at Rutgers University, was refused the sale of wedding dress at Here Comes the Bride, in Somers Point, N.J., after she says its manager found out she was a lesbian and insulted her about her pending "illegal action."

Donna Saber, who owns and manages the small bridal boutique, had initially called Genter to follow up on the availability of a special light-weight version of the dress Genter had coveted from her shop. Saber told ABC News that when she prepared to call Genter about her order, she noticed that she had crossed out the word "groom" and put in the word "partner" instead.

"When I mentioned it to her, 'Oh, I see you crossed out groom and put in partner,' I got a barrage," Saber said. "I literally got a barrage of 'bigot' and other really cruel words...I might be the kind of person that when you get at me, I might continue the fight, and maybe I shouldn't say this, but I have my beliefs. I did say that I, to the best of my knowledge in the state of New Jersey, that we do operate in New Jersey. If she had remained calm, I would have been able to tell her, that it's illegal, it's an illegal action, that her marriage was illegal in NJ. "

Same sex marriage is illegal in New Jersey, but partnerships are recognized.

Saber told ABC News that she mentioned the information on the form to Genter out of curiosity.

Genter had her own account of what happened. "She said she wouldn't work with me because I'm gay," Genter told Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky. "She also said that I came from a nice Jewish family, and it was a shame that I was gay. She said, 'There's right, and there's wrong. And this is wrong.'"

This exchange of words ended with a refusal by Saber to sell Genter the Eden Bridals designer gown.

Genter is planning to wed her longtime partner in a civil union in New Jersey, where the couple lives, the Philadelphia Daily News reported. They plan to follow their legal union with a formal ceremony in New York and are planning a large celebration for 200 of their closest friends and family to be held next July.

Here Comes the Bride, whose advertising slogan is "Come find the perfect wedding gown for you," sells about 1,000 dresses a year. Saber says business hasn't suffered because of the recent publicity.

Even so, her store's Yelp profile has received well over 300 reviews, most of them of them negative, in the last 24 hours alone from individuals all over the country, which proves that the topic of gay marriage remains a sensitive issue. The boutique's Facebook page administrator had removed similar comments from its public wall.

Saber says that she does regret her words towards Genter and said that on Friday afternoon she left Genter a voicemail expressing apology for her behavior. Genter didn't respond to the apology, telling, "I can't have this in my life and I've decided not to talk to any more press. I've said what I've needed to."

Kathryn Hamm, president and co-founder of gay-friendly wedding vendor directory, said "It's not surprising that this happened, but the good news is that it's happening with less frequency among wedding vendors in the industry. For what it's worth, I can understand how vendors who haven't considered this issue may not be in favor of it [gay marriage] -- it feels scary and intimidating."

In June 2011, New York joined Washington, D.C., Iowa, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont with its legalization of same-sex marriage.

Same-sex unions in New York State are not differentiated from traditional unions statistically, but more than 5,000 couples in New York City have applied for marriage licenses within the last two months, compared with 4,191 over the same time period last year, Mark Botnik of the New York City Mayor's office told

The jump in marriage license applications and ceremonies has kept the New York City Clerk's office has been busy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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