Steve Hinkle's picture

Discrimination Against a Gay Man Occurred and it was Completely Legal

I don't know what it is about businesses refusing service to LGBTQ people but I do know that I'm tired of it. First the Masterpiece Cakeshop debacle and now this. Colton Southworth and his husband were denied service specifically because they're a gay couple.

Southworth and his husband had recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia and had dreams to transform their lawn into a beautiful garden. Colton researched different lawn services and found Botanica Atlanta Landscape and Design.

Southworth was enamored by the work of landscape business and decided to call the owner, Stuart DiNenno. That's when things went south, according to 11 Alive.

Colton explained the details of the work he wanted done on his lawn to DiNenno, who asked if Southworth wants this done for him and his wife. He explained that it's actually for him and his husband, to which DiNenno responded with the fact that he does not want to work with a gay couple. Southworth, not knowing what to do, simply said "ok" and hung up. Disturbed by this conservation, he went to Yelp and left a one-star review and recapped the conversation with DiNenno.

DiNenno saw the review and commented

"Yes, this is an accurate description of what happened. Large landscaping projects take several months." I can’t do that, all while going along with the delusion of two men calling themselves a married couple…It’s very perverse and foolish."

What a stand up guy... I wonder if he's ever heard of Obergefell v. Hodges? This is very clearly discriminatory and inflammatory, calling the union between to men a perversion. According to DiNenno, his company specializes in large-scale projects that average over $20,000. One would think that he would welcome Southworth for the monetary gain, but the business owner's bigotry is just too strong.

DiNenno recounted his phone conversation with Southworth in a Facebook post, saying ""I average about one or two calls per year from sodomites or lesbians. I always turn them down." He has also said that his religious beliefs say that gay people should be put to death.

How charming.

Despite denying service to someone based on their sexuality, what DiNenno did was completely legal due to the fact that in the majority of US states, there is no protection from discrimination for LGBTQ people. One may question why that is, seeing as it would be illegal to discriminate against someone based on their skin color or sex.

This instance is just one of many that shows that LGBTQ activists must keep fighting for equal rights. Many may think that because LGBTQ people gained the right to marry in 2015 that we have achieved equality. Evidently, that is not true. It is imperative that LGBTQ people and our allies keep fighting for what is right.

 

 

h/t: 11Alive

 

 

Comments

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Lonnie Lopez, the problem is that anti-discrimination laws in Georgia don't actually cover sexual orientation in Georgia.  So, it is completely legal to discriminate against gay people in Geogia.  So, even if they did file a lawsuit, it would be thrown out because there is no law that actually protects gay people from being discriminated against.  Your argument that somehow they should sue based upon a law that doesn't exist shows that you don't actually know all that much about the anti-discrimination laws in Georgia.

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I'm a civil rights paralegal.  Reality Check:  anti-discrimination laws don't STOP discrimination.  Anti-discrimination laws establish a way for people who have been discriminated against to recover damages caused by the discrimination, usually by filing a complaint with a rights agency or by filing a lawsuit.  I don't see anything in this article to tell me this couple has 1) filed a complaint with an agency who can do something or 2) consulted with an attorney.

First of all, younger LGBT folks are kind of spitting on the legacy of Stonewall and our LGBT predecessors by not following the legal protocols movement veterans worked so hard for.  What's the point of anti-discrimination laws if LGBT people REFUSE to follow the guidelines when discriminated against?  As I tell clients all the time, if you do not complain about the discrimination, there's no way anyone can remedy the problem.  Going to Yelp is NOT a way to remedy the problem and, in fact, could create an entirely new problem if the bigoted business owner decides to sue this couple for defamation or slander.  

I'm sorry, but these guys haven't done the right thing to respond to this discrimination.  

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As far as actually suing someone for slander, that will never happen, as the truth is actually a defense to slander.  So, the fact that the business has acknowledged that this is an accurate description of what happened means that the business has acknowledged that there is no slander involved.  If the business does sue for slander, it would go over quite quickly with these questions:

1. Did you read the Yelp review in question?  Yes.

2. Did you reply to that Yelp review? Yes.

3. And did you acknowledge that the review in question was accurate to what actually happened?  Yes.

No slander involved.

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