Leon Hendrix -
GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) -- The owner of a Grandville auto repair shop says he won't hesitate "to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons."
Brian Klawiter, the owner of Dieseltec on Ottawa Avenue in Grandville, posted the statement to his company's Facebook page on Tuesday because he says the voices of those who have Christian, conservative values are often overshadowed by those who do not.
"I want to have a voice about this," Klawiter told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday. "I want to be heard about this... It's challenging to decide to say I'm on the opposing side of what's seen as the popular view."
The post in question starts with "Enough is enough."
"Apparently if you are white (or close to it), you have a job, go to church, and own a gun...That translates into racist, privileged, bigot... Our rights as conservative Americans are being squashed more and more everyday..." the post reads in part.
The line that's drawing the most conversation is the one that addresses "openly gay" individuals.
"I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period," Klawiter wrote. "If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works."
The post had gotten a couple dozen comments and about two dozen shares as of Wednesday evening. Many commenters criticized his views, but some were supportive.
While Klawiter acknowledges that the post could be viewed as offensive, he says he doesn't regret writing it.
"I think I exercised a little more freedom than I would on a news broadcast," Klawiter said of his post, adding that he didn't expect the post to get the attention it has. "If you have a vehicle that needs to be repaired, we'd be happy to do that for you. But if you want to come in here with your boyfriend and you want to openly display that, that's just not going to be tolerated here. We don't believe that here."
Klawiter says he isn't asking clientele about their sexuality, but is emphatic that he won't tolerate "outward" affectionate behavior between same-sex couples.
Asked to consider his post from the eyes of a person who is gay, Klawiter responded:
"I think it would be made pretty clear to me that I'm not welcome there, which I would almost consider that enlightening. I would know exactly where not to go."
Discrimination based on sexual orientation has not been outlawed in Michigan, though several municipalities have local ordinances on the matter. Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids are among the West Michigan cities that have ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Grandville, however, has no such ordinance.
Grandville Mayor Steve Maas said he's open to discussing one, but that the citizens would have to ask for it.
"There are many people who have deeply held, sincerely held, very conservative religious and political beliefs. But on the other hand, that same group of people is a very kind group of people that does not tolerate bigotry and intolerance, so it would be very interesting to see that debate," Maas said.
Klawiter is among those who doesn't think the city should have a non-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation.
"I've chosen to put God first in my life and that he owns everything in me and my business and beyond," Klawiter said. "Since that becomes a priority, I can't sacrifice on those morals."24 Hour News 8's Heather Walker contributed to this report.
"It IS a free country and I support your right to your opinion, that being said, if you don't like what I have to say I reserve that same right to tell you to go cry to your momma (cause your daddy would probably smack ya', better yet, yes, go tell your dad.)"
Yvonne Siferd, the director of victim services for LGBT advocacy group Equality Michigan, provided this statement Wednesday:
"Klawiter's post is emblematic of too many businesses in this state where LGBTQ people's lives are constantly at risk for simply being who they are. This is why we call for our representatives in Lansing to step up and modernize ELCRA to include sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. Klawiter's statement goes beyond the denial of service to LGBTQ people and our allies, and includes a threat to our lives. That is contrary to our common values as Americans."
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