UPDATE: WASHBURN, Tenn. (AP) — An East Tennessee hardware store owner who put up a “No Gays Allowed” sign in response to the Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage says he decided to take a “bold” stand for his beliefs.
Jeff Amyx tells local media outlets that he put the sign up at Amyx Hardwar & Roofing Supplies in Grainger County on Monday because he disagreed with the court’s decision last week. He said gay and lesbian relationships are against his religion.
On Tuesday, however, media reports say he took down that sign and replaced it with one reading “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who would violate our rights of freedom of speech & freedom of religion.”
Amyx, who is Baptist, says he’ll sell to gay people as long as they “behave” and don’t express their opinions in his store.
PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: WASHBURN, Tenn. (WATE) – A Grainger County store owner said he is simply voicing his freedom of religion and speech after posting a sign that has the community talking.
Phones at Amyx Hardware have been ringing non-stop after he posted a sign reading “No Gays Allowed” outside of his store in Washburn.
“A lot of people have called me and congratulated me,” said owner Jeff Amyx. But other calls are on the other side of spectrum. “People calling and threatening me. Telling me I would regret this. No I’ll never regret this,” said Amyx.
A WATE 6 On Your Side viewer snapped a photo of the sign and sent it to the newsroom.
“The reason I put up the sign is to let the homosexual people know that there are Christian people that are willing to take a stand,” said Amyx.
On Tuesday, Amyx took down the “No Gays Allowed” sign and put up a sign that reads “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who would violate our rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
“People told me I ought to do it a little bit more, make it a little nicer because I’m a very blunt person,” added Amyx. The signs are raising some questions in the Washburn community about how Amyx would even know someone was gay,
“It’s his business. He can do whatever he wants. If he wants gays to stay out then that’s his preference,” said homeowner Marvin Williams.
But Amyx wants to make sure one thing is clear, “I don’t hate people. It’s not the people I hate, it’s the sin that I hate.” He simply asks for respect, which in turn he says he’ll show if a customer is homosexual. “Well I might preach to you a little while,” said Amyx.
And there’s no telling what tomorrow may look like for the hardware store. “Until they tell me it is illegal to have my freedom of speech and to my freedom of religion, the sign will stay,” said Amyx. He said he is not worried about business at his hardware store. He simply felt compelled to take a stand.
Hedy Weinberg, the executive director at Tennessee’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union made this statement:
“Gay and lesbian people are our neighbors, coworkers, family members and friends. When it comes to being able to be served by a business, they should be treated like anyone else. Religion should not be used as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people. Businesses that are open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms.”