A restaurant in Richmond, Virginia, sparked controversy after it canceled a reservation for a private event hosted by the Family Foundation, a Virginia-based conservative Christian organization that has historically had significant influence over Virginia legislators and openly expresses his opposition to same-sex marriage, Discrimination Protections for LGBTQ Peopleand the right to abortion.
The Family Foundation was scheduled to host a dessert reception at Metzger Bar and Butchery for supporters on Nov. 30, according to a report. blog post by the group’s president, Victoria Cobb. But about 90 minutes before the event was to start, one of the restaurant owners called to cancel the reservation.
“As our VP of operations explained that guests would be arriving at his restaurant shortly, he asked for an explanation,” Cobb wrote in the blog post, lamenting that the organization was “canceled” and trying to present the incident as a way of discrimination against Christians. “Sure enough, an employee searched for our organization and his service personnel refused to serve us.”
Cobb likened the reservation cancellation to the discrimination black Americans faced in the 1950s and 1960s, when restaurants and lunch counters denied them service because of their race. He also criticized the left for having a “double standard” in expecting bakers with religious beliefs who oppose homosexuality, like Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker at the center of a 2018 Supreme Court case — to bake cakes for same-sex weddings while supporting a company’s right to refuse service to people “who have biblical values around marriage.”
“At The Family Foundation, we believe that people in private business should not have to violate their convictions, which for some Christians means not celebrating what God has declared to be sin (Romans 1:32). However, most, if not all, religions not only allow the provision of services, such as food, to those with whom they disagree, but also encourage them,” Cobb continued.
She predicted that the Family Foundation would continue to be discriminated against for their beliefs, left with limited options for goods and services as such rejections continue. She also turned the blog post into a donation pitch, asking fans to “support our efforts to ensure that no Virginian has to worry about being denied a simple meal because of her religious beliefs.”
In an interview with cbs money watchCobb once again portrayed herself and her organization as victims, calling the denial of service “alarming and shameful.”
“It’s not a good business model to have the feeling that people are judging you if you’re worthy of eating at their restaurant,” Cobb said. “It’s uncomfortable for people to think that this is how we are going to function in society.”
The nation’s civil rights laws and most state anti-discrimination laws do not prohibit discrimination based on political beliefs or ideologies. The limited number of jurisdictions that prohibit discrimination based on political belief or ideology include the District of Columbia, the city of Seattle, and the US Virgin Islands.
Some legal experts have also said that Cobb’s analogy in drawing a comparison between the Metzger Bar and Butchery and pre-Civil Rights era forms of racial discrimination is not an accurate comparison. While religion, like race, is considered a protected characteristic under civil rights laws, the denial was not based on the Family Foundation’s purported “Christian” identity, but rather on its actions.
“This is about the general positions and policies that the group has taken, it is not about Christians against non-Christians,” said Elizabeth Sepper, a professor at the University of Texas. the washington post.
Metzger Bar and Butchery responded to the controversy in an Instagram post, defending their actions.
“Metzger Bar and Butchery has always prided itself on being an inclusive environment for people to dine in. In eight years of service, we have rarely denied service to someone who wished to dine with us,” the post says. “We recently refused service to a group that had booked an event with us after the owners of Metzger discovered it was a group of donors to a political organization that seeks to deprive women and LGBTQ+ people of their basic human rights in Virginia. .
“We have always denied service to anyone for making our staff feel uncomfortable or unsafe and this was the driving force behind our decision,” the post continues. “Many of our staff are women and/or members of the LGBTQ+ community. All of our staff are people with rights who deserve dignity and a safe work environment. We respect the established rights of our staff as human beings and strive to create a work environment where they can do their jobs with dignity, comfort and safety.”
Denial of service became a political issue in 2018, after then-White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave Red Hen, a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, because the owner believed that Sanders was “a person whose actions in the service of our country we feel violated in basic norms of humanity,” according to the Mail. Similarly, a New York judge next to a bar who kicked out a customer for wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap in support of former President Donald Trump, arguing that political affiliation and beliefs are not a characteristic protected by anti-discrimination laws.
Metzger Bar and Butchery appears to have generated a backlash, as their Yelp page was temporarily disabled to stop accepting comments from the public due to media attention. Yelp also flagged the page with an “Unusual Activity Alert,” noting that such situations often prompt supporters to post unfavorable reviews of one-star establishments as a form of retribution.
“While we do not take a position one way or the other when it comes to this incident, we have temporarily disabled the posting of content on this page while we work to investigate whether the content you see here reflects actual consumer experiences rather than recent events. ”, Yelp Support wrote in the alert notice. “Keep in mind that we apply this same policy regardless of the business and subject matter.”
But the restaurant seems unswayed by the backlash, and is doubling down on its support for the LGBTQ community. On December 2, she posted an image on Instagram of a bourbon-based cocktail dubbed “Cracks in the Base,” saying she would donate the proceeds from the sale of the cocktail to Equality Virginia, the Commonwealth statewide LGBTQ organization.
“We are very grateful to our many guests and neighbors for their support over the past few days!” the instagram mail reads “To say thank you, we’re donating all proceeds from this cocktail party to @equalityva tonight!”