Can you imagine walking into a bridal expo with vendors who will turn you away based on who you choose to marry? Unfortunately, this may be easy to imagine, because it’s not abnormal for vendors to decline services to same-sex couples. Co-owner of Rainbow Wedding Network, Cindy Puechl-Sproul, often says, “LGBT couples can walk down the aisle in the morning and in many locations still get fired from their jobs that same afternoon for who they’ve married.” In today’s world, we’ve come so far as a nation in regard to equality; however, in many ways we’ve taken steps back. Even though gay and lesbian couples can now legally get marry in all 50 states, since the SCOTUS decision in June 2015 there have been over 200 anti-LGBT pieces of legislation proposed in locales all across our country!
Did you know that many wedding expos actually have an employee walk around with a piece of paper that has an equality sign printed on it? These employees are tasked to ask vendors if they support equality and same-sex couples getting married. If the vendor does support and accept LGBT couples, they will put the equality sign on their booth. If a vendor declines and chooses not to put the sign of equality on their booth, they’re making it known that same-sex couples are not welcome to do business with their company.
Joel Bagnal with Joel Bagnal, Goldsmith experienced this when he participated in a larger bridal expo in the Orlando area. At first, his immediate response was shock that he was even being asked if he would turn same-sex couples away and quickly replied, “Yes, I want the equality sign on my booth! Why would you NOT want to be a part of EVERYONE’S wedding?!” He was so dismayed by the amount of vendors who did not accept same-sex couples, that Joel himself decided to create jewelry to specifically honor the LGBT community.
Joel is an expert goldsmith with an M.Ed. and an M.F.A. in Metalsmithing, he teaches and creates metals programs for Cedar Crest College and Boston University, and he is a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient. You can find his work in the Smithsonian Institute Collections, the Collections of the Minnesota Museum of Art, and at his current shop located at 11C, Aviles Street, St. Augustine, FL.
Joel has also worked with LGBT couples for many years to create that perfect wedding ring.“For over 40 years, we have offered distinctively handmade designs in gold and silver jewelry. We commemorate marriages, partnerships, and any special occasion or relationship with collaboratively designed objects of adornment. We provide expert advice in diamonds and gemstones. We serve clients,” he emphasizes, “not customers.”
Needless to say, Joel was ecstatic with the recent inspiration to get started on his new equality line. Immediately after the bridal fair, Joel got to work on his fresh ideas. Shortly after, the Heart of Equality line was created. Together, Joel blends a heart symbol with an equal symbol inside to represent love and equality. This uniquely delicate design is a timeless piece that one can wear at any time with any wardrobe. The Heart of Equality line is offered in studded earrings, beautiful earrings that hang, charm bracelets that can also be worn as an anklet, and as a necklace pendant. This exquisite jewelry line can be worn by all genders in any walk of life - anyone who supports the LGBT community’s right to equaity.
You can find Joel’s Heart of Equality line on his website, https://www.joelbagnalgoldsmith.com/. Also, if you’re looking for unique wedding rings, Joel creates custom wedding bands that are designed specifically for you and made to reflect your personalities as individuals as well as your union as a couple.
Joel Bagnal, Goldsmith