Ky. Print Shop: Guns? OK. Gays? Go Away

By Daniel Reynolds

Originally published on Advocate.com April 29 2014 2:32 PM ET

A print shop in Kenucky has created a customized ban on LGBT shoppers.

Herald Embroidery, which creates personalized merchandise like T-shirts, prints, and banners, recently stamped antigay signage on its Oak Grove, Ky., storefront: a rainbow flag with a red line through it.

The sticker reflects the print shop's policy to refuse service to LGBT customers and those seeking products “that promote ideas that are not in keeping with our consciences,” according to a statement on the store’s website clarifying the meaning of its graphic.

“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 statement reads. “This includes, but is not limited to content promoting homosexuality, freemasonry, the use of foul language, and imagery which promotes immodesty.”

The crossed-out out pride sticker is one of five circular graphics on the Herald Embroidery storefront, which have been created in the style of “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policies often seen on retail establishments. Another that also has a prohibitive red line through it is a graphic that reads “foul language.” Three other images are circled in green, signaling approval: a beard, a gun, and a Biblical verse.

The antigay policy has sparked a flurry of criticism on Herald Embroidery’s online reviews. In the past week, a spurned LGBT customer, Jeri Vercetti, recounted experiencing intolerance during a recent visit to the store with her wife.

“My wife and I went into this shop to get shirts for my parent's anniversary,” Vercetti posted 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! But...we wasted a trip for nothing. Guess we'll get our shirts online next time. So sad about this treatment. ):”

In March, Kentucky lawmakers overrode Gov. Steve Beshear’s veto of a so-called “religious freedom” bill, which provides protections for the expression of "sincerely held religious beliefs.” Groups like the ACLU have warned that such legislation could be used as a “license to discriminate” against LGBT people and other minority groups in the public and private sectors.