Updated with comments from the ACLU, which says that the printer's actions violate state law.
Citing the owner's moral objections, a local print shop is refusing to print flyers advertising the debut of a Capitol Hill bar on the grounds that it caters to a gay clientele.Access Printed Media, which advertises "business and promotional printing you can rely on." The flyers would announce the grand opening of Diesel, a new bear bar slated to open later this summer on 14th Avenue. The couple planned on handing out the flyers—which depict the silhouette of a man leaning against a '50s-style gas pump—during Gay Pride weekend. "We chose Access Printed Media because we wanted to support another local business and we knew a woman who worked there," says Reis.
But on Tuesday, they received an email from the printer. "I have some bad news. :/," wrote Sarah Wheeler, an employee with Access Printed Media. "Not that we're against homosexuals at all, but because knowing that our printed products will be advertising and promoting the kind of lifestyle that goes against our morals is something that [the owner] can't bring himself to do... :/"
"We were horrified when we got the email," says Reis. "I felt sickened, furious, humiliated. Obviously, they do have a problem with homosexuals, but they couldn't even pick up the phone and call us. You’d expect this kind of close-mindedness somewhere else—out of the state or east of the mountains. Not here."
Reached by phone today, Wheeler admitted that the Diesel flyers depicted "nothing inflammatory whatsoever." (You can see the flier for yourself by clicking the image to the right to enlarge.)
Wheeler reiterated that the decision was "nothing against homosexuals themselves. We’re just not morally able to promote that kind of a lifestyle."
Wheeler says the company has no written document that outlines the business's moral-related printing policy. She did say they once refused to print an advertisement for a tarot reader. She also declined to tell this reporter more about the printer's moral code, saying that I "sounded close-minded." She added, "We're a small business owned by a small conservative Christian family. I'm sorry but we have values and we can print whatever we want."
But the ACLU of WA says the printer can't legally turn down the job. "The print shop's refusal to provide services violated state law," states ACLU spokesman Doug Honig. "The Washington Law Against Discrimination... bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and require[s] businesses open to the general public to serve all customers equally. The bar owner can file a complaint with the WA Human Rights Commission. The ACLU would be glad to hear from the bar owner and provide assistance if he wishes to pursue the matter."
A quick search of the company website shows that the company doesn't advertise its conservative Christian morals. It also fails to state, "We don't accept the money of homosexuals" prominently on its web page.
Fortunately, Reis and Hurst were able to work with gotprint.com to fulfill their flyer order. "We're looking forward to Pride weekend and the opening of our bar," says Reis. "It's going to be a flag bearing, hat-hanging bear bar. Something very masculine but with a non-intimidating image. A very inclusive place."
Diesel has no firm opening date. The couple, along with manager Mark Engelmann—former manager of CC Attle's—hopes to open the bear bar sometime this summer at 1413 14th Avenue (next to Chop Suey).