“No shoes, no shirt, no service.” A bare chest and bare feet are two of the more visceral reasons a restaurant might refuse a putative customer service. But can an eating establishment turn customers away because of their sexual orientation? Richard Hodo, owner of Sisters Gourmet Bistro, in Van Buren, Ark., thinks so.
Fayetteville ABC affiliate KHOG reports that on Friday Hodo canceled a reservation when he found out that the group that had made it, River Valley Equality Center, was an LGBT rights advocacy organization (h/t The Blaze).
I called them and told them that I — we’re not going to have that at Sisters, we had no plans for that and there were no reservations to hold any kind of fundraiser or anything like that.
I told them that I do not support their cause, that if they want to do that that’s their business. I do not care, but I don’t support their lifestyle and their cause.
The center’s director, Erin Fowler, called the reaction a “bump in the road,” adding “but it wasn’t a slap in the face.”
But Hodo apparently did ruffle some feathers when he attempted to justify his decision by observing that “if the KKK came here and wanted to hold a fundraiser rally and all that, I wouldn’t allow that either.”
Fowler took exception with the restaurant owner’s equating her organization with a white supremacist hate group.
River Valley Equality Center has said that they will be staging an awareness event on the town’s Main Street, but has not threatened further action against Hodo or the restaurant. Hodo for his part has said that Sisters is “a private club and I have the right to refuse service to anyone.”
So far it appears that Hodo has the law on his side. The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 explicitly prohibits restaurants from refusing service to patrons on the basis of race, color, religion, or natural origin. The law makes no specification about professed gender or sexual orientation. Don’t be surprised in this litigation-happy age we live in to see this case ending up in court.
Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.
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