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Coffee Shop Bars Politicians Who Oppose Anti-Discrimination Bill in North Dakota

In order to enter, they must be "accompanied by a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual, queer, intersex or asexual person."

Red Raven Espresso Parlor, Fargo, North Dakota
Red Raven Espresso Parlor, Fargo, North Dakota
Studio Bri/Facebook

As gay marriage opponents dig in their heels across the country, restaurants are turning into battlegrounds. After a bill banning discrimination against members of the LGBT community failed to pass the North Dakota state legislature late last week, one coffee shop owner instituted a tongue-in-cheek ban on the 55 lawmakers that opposed the measure, according to the Associated Press.

Joe Curry, who owns Red Raven Espresso Parlour in Fargo, posted a sign and photos of the 55 state Republican lawmakers who opposed the bill on the shop's front door. The sign stated that the legislators were not welcome "unless accompanied by a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual, queer, intersex or asexual person."

As it stands, North Dakota has a so-called "religious freedom" law, though it's unclear how often business owners enforce it. Senate Bill 2279, the anti-discrimination law in question, was the third such bill to come before the state legislature in six years. It was the first bill to specify that discrimination could not occur in "public accommodations and services," i.e. hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Curry told the AP that he was mostly joking when he first posted the sign, but that he's pleased it has caused a stir. Though the shop has gotten a few hateful phone calls, Curry hopes his sign will get people to think about their actions. Meanwhile, the state's only openly gay lawmaker, Democratic State Rep. Josh Boschee said he didn't like the sign and "would have done it differently."

On the other side of the aisle, Republican state Rep. Jim Kasper — whose face appears on the sign — said that though he's never been to the coffee shop, he agreed with the sentiment. He told the press: "They have the perfect right to refuse anyone they want." Curry has since removed the sign, and explained to the AP: "I think it encapsulated a lot of the anger and disgust with all the people who shared it. It did its job."

Though Indiana's discriminatory law has been reversed, state laws in Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas still allow businesses to discriminate against members of the LGBT community. When Indiana first passed its "religious freedom" law, a small town pizzeria came forward as the first business to openly discriminate (specifically, the owners said they would not cater a gay wedding), and what followed was an all out war between liberals and conservatives in the media and on the ground.

Red Raven Espresso Parlour

916 Main Avenue, Fargo, ND 58103, USA