By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com April 30 2014 1:04 PM ET
A Kentucky print shop, which made headlines earlier this week for posting a series of stickers that included a crossed-out pride flag on its storefront, has replaced this image with text clarifying its antigay policy.
Matthew Lombard, the owner of Herald Embroidery, a retail store that creates customized T-shirts, banners, and other merchandise, made the swap in order to avoid "public confusion" about the story's policy to refuse service to those seeking products “that promote ideas that are not in keeping with our consciences,” according to a statement on the store’s website.
“Two of these stickers are negative and prohibitive in their message," the update read. "After some public confusion as to the meaning of one which depicted a rainbow flag, we’ve replaced them with a clarification.”
The text adhered to the Oak Grove, Ky., storefront, which mirrors the update on the website, now 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.”
The message replaces five circular graphics, including the crossed-out out pride sticker, that had been previously displayed on Herald Embroidery's storefront, which had been created in the style of “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policies often seen on retail establishments. Another that also had a prohibitive red line through it is a graphic that read “foul language.” Three other images had been circled in green, signaling approval: a beard, a gun, and a Biblical verse.
The images had 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 while the stickers were still in place.
“My wife and I went into this shop to get shirts for my parents' 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” even if it results in discrimination. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union 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.