When the editors signed me up to contribute to The Rebel's group blog, they asked me to keep an eye on stories down here in Atlantic Canada. And then a culture-war controversy blew up in my own hometown. Now that's some good timing.
A same-sex couple went to a business owned by someone opposed to same- sex marriage on religious grounds, and asked him to provide a service. But unlike similar cases in the United States, where the business owner has refused to provide the service in the first place, the owner of Today's Jewellers in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, took their money, did what they asked...and then prominently posted a large sign showing his disapproval. I leave it to you to decide if that's better.
A couple wants a refund after finding out the Mount Pearl jewelry store they went to for a custom engagement ring is displaying posters opposing same-sex marriage.
A photo of one of the posters reportedly on display at Today's Jewellers has been widely shared on social media, and has sparked talks of a boycott. It reads: “The Sanctity of Marriage IS UNDER ATTACK; Help Keep Marriage Between Man & Woman."
Nicole White and her fiancée, Pam Renouf, say the man they dealt with at the store knew they were a same-sex couple and didn’t appear to have any issues with it. In fact, they say the service was quite good, so they recommended the place to some friends.
“One of our guy friends went in to get a ring for his girlfriend, so him and his mom went in,” she said, adding his mother noted three posters in the store with messages opposing same-sex marriage.
“She took the picture and sent it to one of our bridesmaids and said, ‘Are you sure this is the place that Nicole and Pam referred us to?’”
The posters were not on display during the couple’s previous visits to the store.
After initially refusing to return their deposit, owner Esau Jordon changed his mind, and says he has received death threats since the controversy blew up. (White and Renouf, it should be noted, have handled the situation in a very classy manner.)
I've long supported same-sex marriage, largely on the conservative grounds promoted by Andrew Sullivan before he decided to devote his life to gynecology. But considering the absolutely astonishing speed with which the practice has gone from a radical pipe dream to the status quo, I'm willing to cut opponents some slack.
It wasn't that long ago even President Obama was on the record as opposed to it. Instead of condemning all opponents of same-sex marriage as bigots and hatemongers, I prefer to let them come to their own realization that the sky has not fallen since gay marriage became the law of the land.
I also believe a business owner has every right to take a stand on a controversial issue, and to use his business to publicize it. And then he should be prepared to accept the consequences.
If Jardon was facing criminal charges or a dubious human-rights complaint because of his sign, I would stand up for his right to express his beliefs. But that's the thing: so far, he isn't facing any such thing. He just has people angry at him for what he did.
And, to put it bluntly, what the heck was he expecting? The entire state of Indiana found itself briefly boycotted over an ill-conceived law that would allegedly have allowed business owners to refuse service for same-sex wedding ceremonies. This is society's hot-button issue of the moment, and while no one can condone death threats being made against Jardon and his business, it's hard to believe he didn't know this might blow up in his face.
If a company decided to post a huge "so many Christians, so few lions" sign on its premises, I would likely take my business elsewhere, and those offended by Jardon's sign have the right to do the same. That's the market at work. This isn't a freedom of expression issue, as much as it is a very,very bad business decision.
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