Protected under the Kentucky religious freedom bill, an Oak Grove embroidery shop announced it won’t print messages that “promote ideas that are not in keeping with our consciences” by posting a crossed-out pride flag in its window.
The news comes just one month after the Kentucky legislature voted to override Gov. Steve Beshear’s veto of the law.
After criticism earlier this week, Matthew Lombard, the owner of Herald Embroidery, which makes customized T-shirts, banners, and other print merchandise, took down the sign and posted text clarifying the antigay store policy.
“While we will serve all customers who treat our place of business with respect, we reserve the right to refuse to produce promotional products that promote ideas that are not in keeping with our consciences,” the new sign says. “This includes, but is not limited to content promoting homosexuality, freemasonry, the use of foul language, and imagery which promotes immodesty.”
The media attention sparked a flury of criticism and support for the store.
An online review of the store by an LGBT customer, Jeri Vercetti, says there is a policy of intolerance there.
“My wife and I went into this shop to get shirts for my parents' anniversary,” Vercetti wrote on the store’s Google Plus page. “We went in holding hands and the clerks gave us dirty looks the entire time. We didn't understand why; maybe they thought we were suspicious? I confronted one of the employees and they directed me to a sticker in the window. It had a pride flag on it and it basically meant gays weren't welcome. My wife and I were heartbroken; we just wanted shirts made!”
A supporter compared homosexuals to pedophiles.
“C'mon..... So you choose to be a pervert, Sicko and now you want special rights to go with it? What's next? Allow pedophiles to play on McDonald's play grounds?” wrote Google Plus user Joe Fall. “Why not? They didn't choose to be a pedophile, they too were born that way. Get real you Sickos, you chose to blow the meat pole and now you want to show everyone how much you like it. What about my rights? I don't want to see two dudes kissing in public, go do it in a closet … Way to STAND YOUR GROUND Herald Embroidery.”
The posted policy replaces a graphic sign formerly posted in the window that prohibited foul language and homosexuality, while approving of beards, guns and Biblical verses.
“We recently posted five 3'' stickers on the front entrance to our shop. Two of these stickers are negative and prohibitive in their message. After some public confusion as to the meaning of one which depicted a rainbow flag, we’ve replaced them with a clarification,” the store said on its website.
The store says it received a “terroristic threat in the third degree” Wednesday from an anonymous caller who threatened the owner saying, “I’m gonna chop up your kids motherf---er.”
“Charges of Terroristic Threats in the Third Degree have been filed by Officer 921 Mike Platero with the Oak Grove, KY Police Dept. against two men who called into Herald Embroidery on April 30th 2014 to threaten the owner and his children with rape and murder following the owners public statement (below) that he will ‘refuse to produce promotional products that promote…homosexuality,’” the store said on its website.
“Due to overwhelming media attention,” it adds at the bottom of the page, “we will not be accepting phone calls at this time.”