Custom Graphics, Inc. in Fargo, North Dakota, recently turned down an order from the gay-friendly St. Mark's Lutheran Church to make a rainbow logo, which is the universal logo for LGBT rights.
"The business was declined respectfully," the company's general manager Zach Paxton told Forum News Service. "I didn't mean any offense by it or anything like that."
Custom Graphics' business logo includes rainbow colors, and the company website states: "We are a team of highly motivated, highly skilled individuals who will go over the top to produce the best graphic, display or sign for your business."
"If they would come with something to be manufactured or such, no problem," Zach told the news service. "But this is trying to come up with a logo and help them come up with ways to promote their agenda."
Though Zach declined the St. Mark's project, he asserted that he was not discriminating against the church or church members.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation is not banned by North Dakota law, but Democratic state Rep. Joshua Boschee, who is openly gay, encouraged the church to complain to the state Department of Labor and Human Rights, which does track anti-LGBT discrimination.
"We don't allow businesses to say that they're not going to design a graphic for someone who is Muslim or someone who is disabled or someone that's a single parent because we recognize that that's just a form of discrimination that's not a North Dakota value," Boschee said.
Boschee previously proposed legislation that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations (such as businesses), employment and housing, but the bill was defeated.
According to Zach, the owner of Custom Graphics disapproved of turning down the church's business.
"We were planning to offer our apologies to the persons involved," Zach told the Forum News Service in an email.
Paul Paxton, the owner of the company and Zach's cousin, did not return phone calls from the news service.
Adam Johnston, a member of the church council, said Custom Graphics previously agreed to the logo, but changed its mind.
"Everyone was on board," Johnston recalled. "They were really excited about it. And then within a week, we get an email saying, 'Nope, we're done. We're not doing it.'"