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Anti-LGBTQ+ group cries foul after Richmond restaurant cancels reservations

Chris Graham
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A Richmond restaurant turned away a conservative Christian group that had made a reservation last week, citing the group’s advocacy for denying basic rights to the LGBTQ+ community.

The group, the Family Foundation of Virginia, is upset at what went down, and the restaurant, Metzger Bar and Butchery, is defending its decision.

It doesn’t take much to see this as the photo negative of the case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court right now involving a web designer who doesn’t want to have to design websites for same-sex weddings.

“We’ve had events at restaurants all over the city and never encountered a situation like this,” said Todd Gathje, director of government relations for the Richmond-based Family Foundation. “It’s no secret that we are very much engaged in the public policy debate on a number of controversial issues. But we never expected that we would be denied service at a restaurant based on our religious values or political beliefs.

“It was a very intolerant message being conveyed,” Gathje said.

The restaurant explained its decision in an Instagram post, writing that the decision was made after management found out that the Family Foundation group “was a group of donors to an organization that seeks to deprive women and LGBTQ+ persons of their basic human rights in Virginia.”

“We have always refused service to anyone for making our staff feel uncomfortable or unsafe, and this was the driving force behind our decision,” the restaurant wrote in the Facebook post. “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 our staff’s established rights as humans and strive to create a work environment where they can do their jobs with dignity, comfort and safety.”

This is pretty much the same story as conservatives who don’t like the idea of having to design websites or make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

The wedding cake story referenced here was a 2018 case in which the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the bakery that didn’t want to bake the cake.

The lawyer for the winning side in that one, Kristen Waggoner, the senior counsel for a group called Alliance Defending Freedom, said the owner of the bake shop, Jack Phillips, “serves all customers; he simply declines to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply held beliefs.”

Except that, he pressed his case because he didn’t want to serve all customers.

Which is to say, if I walk into a bakery and ask for a specific message on a cake, and the bakery refuses to make it, citing religious beliefs, the idea that I can buy a pastry before I leave doesn’t mean I’ve not been denied service.

This point was made by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who in her dissent in the 2018 case, which was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, argued that “when a couple contacts a bakery for a wedding cake, the product they are seeking is a cake celebrating their wedding – not a cake celebrating heterosexual weddings or same-sex weddings – and that is the service (the couple) were denied.”

We can expect in the current-day case involving the web designer that the Supremes will rule on the side of the lady who doesn’t want to have to design same-sex wedding websites.

But this is apparently not enough, because not only do we have a Supreme Court rolling back legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community based on the idea that we need to protect the beliefs of religious conservatives, but now we’re also being asked to protect religious conservatives who want to have dinner at a restaurant whose owners’ and staff members’ beliefs don’t align with theirs, and don;’t want to serve them because they think they’re hateful monsters.

Basically, they don’t want to have to bake the cake, but they want to be able to eat it, too.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].