A neighborhood coffee shop in Fargo, N.D. is taking a stand against antigay lawmakers in the Roughrider State and pointing a finger at the absurdity of “religious freedom” bills that have been sweeping across that nation as of late.
Earlier this month, Republican state House members rejected a bill that would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, government, public services and the workplace. To retaliate, Joe Curry (pictured), co-owner of the Red Raven Espresso Parlor, posted a sign outside his coffee shop dictating that all antigay lawmakers were banned from entering the establishment “unless accompanied by a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual, queer, intersex or asexual person.”
“The ban was, I thought, very tongue in cheek, requiring them to be escorted by someone from the LBGT community,” Curry told the Guardian. “I hope that they thought about it, at least, and I hope some of them giggled. But in the end, they are all welcome here.”
Curry said his aim was to use humor to make a serious point about discrimination happening in the conservative state and to show support to his LGBT customers.
But not everyone was amused by it.
State representative Josh Boschee is the state’s only openly gay lawmaker. He’s also a regular at the coffee shop, and he says he wasn’t pleased about Curry’s stunt.
“I understand that they are trying to make a point,” Boschee said, “but I would have done it differently.”
Curry said he also received “a few phone calls telling us that we were hypocrites and using some language that was slightly hurtful, but nothing that will affect us long term.”
Curry removed the sign a few days ago, but says he isn’t against posting it again if lawmakers continue to act up.
“I think the statement was made and I think it a chord with a lot of people,” he said. “I think it encapsulated a lot of the anger and disgust with all the people who shared it. It did its job. It opened the doors to a lot of discussion, and I think a lot of that discussion, at least what I was hearing, was positive.”