In March, Kentucky’s state legislature overrode Gov. Steve Beshear’s (D) veto and enacted an Arizona SB 1062-style bill to protect the rights of those with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to ignore non-discrimination laws unless there was a “compelling governmental interest.” Now, an Oak Grove embroidery company has posted a notice that it will not print messages that contradict their consciences — including anything promoting “homosexuality, freemasonry, the use of foul language,” or “immodesty.”
The Advocate reported Wednesday that, after “public confusion” about a sign on the door of Herald Embroidery featuring a crossed-out rainbow flag in a red circle and a citation of a Bible verse in a green circle, the business has replaced it with a new sign explicitly explaining the company’s discriminatory policies. It reads:
“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. This includes, but is not limited to content promoting HOMOSEXUALITY, FREEMASONRY, the use of FOUL LANGUAGE, and imagery which promotes IMMODESTY.”
On the company’s website, owner Matthew Lombard notes that, “following the owners public statement (below) that he will “refuse to produce promotional products that promote…homosexuality,” one person called to threaten him and his family. He quotes the caller as saying, “I’m gonna chop up your kids motherf*&^%$! I’m gonna chop up your fu#%&*# kids! [redaction his]” The uncensored audio is also posted on the site, with a warning that it contains “extremely vulgar language.” Lombard did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry as to whether he believed that “extremely vulgar language” constituted “foul language” and, if so, why he would post it on his company’s site but not print it on a shirt.
He did also did not immediately address ThinkProgress questions about whether it would print Bible verses that themselves contained foul language and immodesty — and about whether it has actually rejected content in the past for promoting freemasonry.
In response to the company’s anti-LGBT actions, several users made their disapproval clear via Yelp reviews. While most of the reviews criticize Herald Embroidery for its “bigotry” and “hate speech,” one took a creative route. Yelp user “Abtin S” gave the shop at 5-star review, praising it as “Recently turned into a gay club,” with “amazing go-go dancers.”
Even before the license-to-discriminate bill passed in March, this policy of discrimination would apparently have been legal. Kentucky is one of 29 states with no laws protecting against discrimination in employment and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. While a few localities have enacted non-discrimination ordinances, Oak Grove and Christian County do not appear to be among them.