Sunday, April 19, 2015

Yes Guns, No Gays

It started as, "enough is enough".  Brian Klawiter, the owner of a car repair shop in Grandville, Michigan, wrote on his company's Facebook page this past week not only encouraging gun owners to visit his shop with the promise of discounts on car services, but Klawiter also publicly announced that he would refuse service to any openly gay person or persons showing public affection towards each other because "Homosexuality is wrong. period". After receiving many threats to the post, Klawiter later wrote another post defending his actions, stating that "the voices of American conservatives are not being heard by the government" and even threatened those that wished to voice their opposing opinions that were customers of his that he would "put their vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and they can see how that works".

When later asked about the disruption his post caused, Klawiter stated, "Apparently if you are white, you have a job, go to church, and own a gun...That translates into racists, privileged, bigot, conspiracy theorist. Too many of us say nothing. Well, freedom of speech isn't just for liberals". Needless to say, Klawiter has continued to receive threatening messages through his company's Facebook account and even requested the security of local authorities at his home, to which he was denied.

It was later discovered that Klawiter does not have a city license, as he believes requiring a license is a violation of his constitutional rights because it would allow city inspectors to enter his shop without a warrant. The license would also request all of Klawiter's personal information, including his home address, details about his property, and an inside access to his alarm system. This, Klawiter also claims, is disregarding the voice of conservative Americans. "I cannot and will not give up my civil rights, especially when requested by a government entity for which the Constitution was designed to limit the power of. Would you sign something giving me the right to search your home as I pleased?".

As of today, Michigan is one of many states that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Several municipalities within the state do have laws against it, but Grandville, the town where this particular case is taking place, is not one of them.

This case is extremely similar to that of the baker that refused to make a cake the videographer that did not want to film for a same-sex marriage. What sets this case apart is that, not only did Klawiter display his opinion on his company's (not personal) social media site and in an unprofessional fashion, but he also openly threatened the voices of those that did not agree with him and blatantly stated that he would damage their cars if they were to ever receive service from him; service from a repair shop without a license. Even though Klawiter's car repair shop is privately owned by himself, he is not licensed and he still is in an area of Michigan that does not allow discrimination, therefore Klawiter should not have the right to publicly state that he will not provide business to homosexuals. To me, that is all too similar to a "Whites Only" sign on a storefront. I also do not think it is right for him to provide discounts to gun-owners, as that is discriminating against personal choices AND religions; not just sexual orientation.

Do you think Klawiter has the right to deny service to homosexuals or the right to give discounts to those that support the right to bear arms? Should this statement be allowed to be displayed on public forums/online advertisements? Should Klawiter be allowed to continue his business without a license under the claim that it is a violation of his Fourth Amendment?


Will P. said...

I agree with the author on all fronts. Currently there is no law freedom of religion act in the location where he lives. He has no constitutional right to refuse service to someone based on sexuality. That is clearly a case of discrimination. Furthermore, other then one mention of religion in the article, I don't think he has a religious base for his beliefs. He genuinely sounds like a bigot. If he is threatening potential customers, and refusing service to certain customers, he has no business being an open shop. And how does he not have a license? There is clearly a compelling state interest to inspect auto body shops, and his rights are in now way being impeded by the requirement of a license. This guy is all over the map, and is discriminating against the lgbtq community.

Nate Hunter said...

I am not hearing any sort of religious belief that he is claiming, to me it sounds like he is simply discriminating against gay people because he dislikes them and thinks its "wrong." It wouldn't even really matter if there was a freedom of religion act in this state because from what I can tell he is making more of a political statement about conservatism then any sort of religious claim. Also the fact that he essentially threatens his clients saying he will intentionally fix their cars improperly further discredits him and all his claims. I think there is no judicial or constitutional justification for this type of discrimination. To me, in order to be allowed to refuse service to anyone for a reason such as this, there has to be a sincere religious belief driving that reason, and that the government forcing someone to provide service would be in direct conflict with their religion.

Tommy S said...

Great points by the author and the other commenters. This man is certainly entitled to hold his own opinion about homosexuality but he cannot refuse service to them because of the anti-discrimination statute. I disagree with the author about his point on discounts. The owner cannot deny service but he can give discounts to whoever he wants. It's kind of crazy that this guy doesn't think he needs a license to run his business. I don't think that requirement is infringing on his rights.

Trevor T said...

Due to the anti discrimination laws the man has no right to deny service to people based on their sexual orientation. Plenty of stores however give discounts to specific groups of people such as seniors or students and therefore providing discounts to a specific group such as licensed gun holders is definitely constitutional and acceptable, however he clearly is not within his rights to discriminate against sexuality when there are anti-discrimination laws in place. I strongly don't support any type of discrimination towards the LGBTQ community, however I can acknowledge his point that for religious conservatives they are facing much hostility for expressing their unpopular opinion. They are protected by plenty of civil rights to believe and express how they feel although it is widely considered wrong and socially inappropriate. That being said based on the quotations there is no specific mention that homosexuality is against any religious belief, but he simply doesn't like them, which is obviously not grounds for refusal of service anywhere at anytime.

Brandon Farrell said...

I agree with Will and Nate that this man doesn't seem to be making any religious claims. This man is discriminating against the LGBTQ community because he disagrees with their lifestyles, he makes no religious claims. He is making a political statement about conservatism and free speech. Threatening his potential clients is where he looses all credibility in my opinion. To be granted an exemption from providing service to a customer there must be a sincere religious obligation preventing you from doing so.

Emily C. said...

I agree with Trevor that that the discount to a specific group of people is perfectly acceptable and within his rights as a business owner. I will stipulate that Klawiter makes no religious appeal for his discrimination; yet for the purposes of the argument, if he were to make a religious claim I would argue that the anti-discrimination law unconstitutionally burdens his free exercise of religion.