JACKSON, Miss. (RNS) Now that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, evangelical Christian wedding vendors are rising up to defend their right to biblically based discrimination. A slew of state legislatures have aided their cause recently with bills that would give state sanction to their “religious liberty” to refuse services to gay and lesbian couples.
Legal protections are great, the vendors say. But what about the awkward interactions of actually rejecting such happy people to their face? That’s a problem that a longtime local sign maker wants to solve.
“Imagine for a minute, these two happy guys walk into your flower shop and your heart swells up for their happiness and joy, but you know that’s Satan pulling on your emotions,” said Jedediah Fearsgod, the CEO of Bless Your Heart Posters and Signs Inc. “These conscientious creative artists deserve the tools to rebuff folks before they even enter the door.”
While florists and cake designers have received most of the media attention for their religious right to religiously refuse their services, the wedding reception venue can be an issue. That could be why Fearsgod’s fastest-selling sign is a large banner for private halls, hotels and other hot spots simply reading “LGBT-NO!” With this easy fix, same-sex couples and their wedding planners will back off immediately.
The stop-them-before-they-ask advertising banners also work for caterers. After all, the largest expense at a wedding is usually the food. And no one likes denying people sustenance.
“Our signs cut straight to the point, and a lot of older folks in these communities don’t even understand what ‘LGBT’ means,” Fearsgod said. “Some of the early adopters have even reported increased revenue since putting the banner up.”
Other signs suitable for venues and vendors include:
- “Proud to Only Serve Straights” if you don’t even want to acknowledge the presence of LGBT people in your community.
- “Homosexual Customer Waiting Room This Way” for the compassionate type who still wants to refuse services to people’s face, but to do it in private.
- Same-sex couple stick figures with arrows pointing folks to the nearest tolerant establishment. (These have elicited some complaints since they imply another option is nearby, but proprietors report oftentimes the closest alternative is hundreds of miles away.)
Wedding dress boutiques can now breathe a sigh of relief, too. Lesbian couples will get the message when “ONE COUPLE = ONE DRESS” appears on yard signs outside.
Bless Your Heart Posters and Signs spends most its time on same-sex refusals, but that’s only a part of its business. It also features signs and posters to deter divorced people from asking vendors to participate in a sinful second marriage ceremony.
“A favorite product of mine is our personalized camera strap with ‘first time only’ in bold lettering,” Fearsgod said. “The photography business is based on referrals, so referring to the Bible clearly states your determination not to capture any evil moments.”
Showing a visitor around his company’s production factory on the outskirts of Jackson, Fearsgod beamed. His pride in his burgeoning business was palpable.
“Our revenue hasn’t been this high since my grandfather ran the business during segregation,” he said.
(Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons (@guthriegf) writes at the intersection of faith and public policy)