Anti-Gay Landscaper Comes Out Of The Proverbial Closet

The story of a Houston landscaping company that refused to work for a local gay couple finally percolated to the AP newswire. There, the AP reporters achieved the heretofore impossible, an actual quote from the Farbers, owners of the Garden Guy company.

    “It was just our intent to uphold our rights as small business owners to choose our clientele,” she said. “All the hate, the threats of sodomizing my children, the threats of me being murdered, came out because of a very businesslike straightforward e-mail I sent. The crowd of tolerance and diversity is not so tolerant.”

One of those calls was from Beelzebub, who needed his hedges trimmed.

    “But Farber said she and her husband have also gotten hundreds of calls and messages offering encouragement and have been touched by that. “We just cried. We have been through so much,” Farber said. “We become accidental crusaders for Christ.”

Unlike nearby Austin and Dallas, Houston has no laws prohibiting businesses from discriminating against clients based on sexual preference. — BEN POPKEN

Houston landscaper accused of bigotry [AP] (Thanks to Acambras!)

Previously: Garden Guy Refuses To Work For Gays

Comments

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  1. I’ll bet Ted Haggart gets his “lawn mowed” by these folks.

  2. thrillhouse says:

    “Unlike nearby Austin and Dallas, Houston has no laws prohibiting businesses from discriminating against clients based on sexual preference.”

    Same state, two very different areas. Look at the Texas map for elections – note which areas are red and which are blue. Houston is traditionally much more conservative, especially when compared to Austin. Dallas I can’t explain, so don’t ask me to.

  3. Triteon says:

    Austin is weird.

  4. bambino says:

    Which is just the way we like it, Triteon.

  5. KevMa says:

    I think we can all understand the feeling of not liking someone because of an idea or preference. We have all felt that way and I think it is normal. What isn’t normal is the way this guy went about it. If he didn’t want their business he should of been more professional about it and not the “your gay ew nasty” way he did. A “sorry we do not wish to do business with you at this time” would have been proper.

    Sheesh you would think a crusader for Christ would have been more loving, or nice about it no? I think the whole idea is to love each other right? God judges, not man silly :)

  6. sonic0boom says:

    I got one of those coupon packets in the mail last week. Nestled between coupons for dry cleaning and duct cleaning, there was a coupon for Mr Garden Guy himself offering a dozen free plants or something with landscaping. I guess they’re trying to make up. Ha!

  7. thatabbygirl says:

    I am sick of hearing that the community of tolerance and diversity should be tolerant of hate and discrimination. The fact that I am tolerant of different races and ethnicities, tolerate the idea that women can make equal contributions to society, tolerate the concept that people are human beings regardless of which gender they want to have sex with does not at all mean that I have to or should tolerate judgmental homophobes. That argument makes for a good sound bite and not much else.

  8. BelBivDevolkswagen says:

    We get it, Austin is weird. Dallas is as red as it gets – moreso than Houston (in my opinion). Houston, contrary to popular belief, does have a thriving, albeit smaller gay population that resides within the I-610 loop. Sadly, this guy, because of his “wise” business decisions, has probably eliminated himself from a lucrative market, as most gay men in Houston are, more often than not, very wealthy.

    Outside of that 610 loop, you’re in the heart of Tom Delay country…a place I tried to avoid at all costs.

  9. MattyMatt says:

    It is very frustrating when you’re trying to be a model of tolerance, and then someone who agrees with your position goes and says some nasty shit, making everyone on your side look like crazy jerks.

    So, I hope that the Garden Guy family realizes that there are lots of very nice people who think that their homophobia is a bad thing. And probably some mean jerks who are on the Garden Guy’s side. I wonder what the balance is? I guess we’ll just have to guess.

  10. ooh, those poor intolerant homophobes. They’re just standing up for principles and now people are judging them. That must suck. Hopefully no one stops giving them business just because they’re bigots, I can’t imagine how much it must hurt to have someone restrict thier business from you just because of your Bigot lifestyle! How evil those intolerant tolerant masses are!

  11. kerry says:

    Who emailed these people threatening to sodomize their children? Surely they realize it’s not the way to get them to be more gay-tolerant, right? I smell shenanigans.

  12. The_Truth says:

    Shame, I read the title as meaning the gardener guy was actually coming out of the closet, ala Mr Haggert.

    Shame.

  13. Frank Grimes says:

    This guy is just a simpleton Jackass. My guess is once the economy or his business takes a downturn he would personally plant a daffodill in Ray Hill’s ass if it would get a few bucks in his pocket (sorry for the local joke). BelBiv is also right about the wealthy gay population in HOU. My running group has 4-5 gay guys in it and my guess would be average personal income of $125K+. Geez, what’s the big deal with planting a few flowers and then moving on.

  14. North of 49 says:

    Okay, this is going to sound like a very stupid question. But what is wrong with a company choosing to limit their clientele? Does not every company have the right to refuse service? Of course, a company will have to pay the cost of refusing that service, but is it not their right to do so? I read the original letter the company sent out. There was nothing hateful or disrespectful in it. It simply said that they “choose not to work for homosexuals.”

    Does that not go to the core of freedom of choice and expression? Of course it is equally true that the couple who were refused service can take their money to someone else.

    You don’t have to serve customers you do not want to serve. Whether they be white, black, mexican, ukranian, gay, neuter, bi, straight, or any other designation. You do have to give them equal respect as fellow human beings and you do have to live with your choices.

    For Garden Guy, what they did was the right thing to do. I may, and in fact don’t, agree with what they did but it was their right to do so. I support their right to chose, as I would support the right of a gay landscaping operation to chose to refuse to work for straight couples.

  15. cramatt says:

    Designing a landscape is not simply planting a few flowers then moving on. It would be a process requiring lots of time and interaction between designer and client. I am a self-employed gay graphic designer and if someone who is against alI I stand for wanted to work with me, I want to have the right to say no to that client as well.
    The Farber’s mistakes were to say why they refused to work with these clients, and further, to write the reason in an email. True, as KevMa wrote, a simple “We do not wish to do business with you at this time” would have been sufficient and much more professional. Hopefully we all learn a lesson from this.

  16. GenXCub says:

    North, I think the thing that’s getting left in the subtext here is that legally, there’s nothing wrong, but as consumers, I would want to know if someone who I may choose to do business with is anti-gay (I hate homophobic) so I can avoid them, and then let word of mouth ruin him. If he wants to have his way, he needs to accept the consequences.

  17. Anonymously says:

    Hey, if it’s legal in that area, obviously the local culture doesn’t really have that big of a problem with it. You can’t “cure” everyone of homophobia or Christianity or whatever else it is that you’re crusading against.

  18. Mr. Gunn says:

    Sad that the asshats have made him even more intolerant by their anger at him.

  19. Kat says:

    As usual – anything good coming their way is blessings from god, anything bad is of satan.

  20. “We have become accidental crusaders for Christ”

    Is this guy really trying to argue that Jesus would deny lawn service to gays too? The Jesus in my bible hung out with tax collectors and loose women. Don’t they say hate the sin, love the sinner? Let’s pretend that he’s right and being gay is a sin, how would some shrubbery and a flower bed enable sin? Are all the men in the neighborhood going to “switch teams” because of the guy’s got killer daffodils? If you believe that I’ve got some crystal meth to sell you.

  21. RumorsDaily says:

    North,

    He should have every right to limit his clientele. Customers should have every right to complain about his choice loudly and frequently. Much in the same way that they chose not to do business with gay people, I would hope that most consumers would chose not to do business with him.

    The whole thing gets sticky when people move beyond complaining/publicizing and begin to threaten. Look, the guy’s a jerk. We know that. That doesn’t mean you get to threaten his life or to rape his children. Those people make the rest of us who are simply pointing out his anti-consumer choices look bad.

    Why do people think it’s ever a good idea to threaten someone’s life?

  22. AngrySquirrel says:

    North of 49 if someone told me they chose not to work for Mexicans I would consider that hateful. (I’m Mexican) As KevMa said above they could have left it at “sorry we do not wish to do business with you at this time”. It was a very polite letter but still hateful.

  23. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    thatabbygirl is my hero. I’ve been wanting to hear that said FOREVER. Just because we’re tolerant of human diversity does NOT mean that we’re going to be tolerant of bigots. Being bigoted is NOT a protected status, or something you’re born with and can’t help. It’s being an asshole, and you deserve all the asshole you get back. Period.

    North, you’re missing a key distinction — Companies have the right to refuse to serve A customer–any single customer they want–but not a GROUP. Refusing to do business with a group is discrimination, and in civilized places discrimination is illegal. It doesn’t matter if it’s blacks, women, muslims, gays, or midgets that you don’t “like”, you don’t have the right to run a public business and exclude a whole group of people. What these jackoffs are defending is as defensible as my right to put a “whites only” sign on my gas-station bathroom.

  24. Just out of curiosity Mary, I honestly don’t know, but are homosexuals considered a protected group vis-a-vis race or religion in the US?

    I think if there really was a legal issue at hand here, lawyers would have trampled the gay couple’s un-landscaped lawn trying to get their business…

    As for discriminating against generic groups of people, businesses do it all the time…not that it’s morally right…but it is common practice.

    Personally, I have to agree with KevMa. If the Farber’s didn’t want to perform services for gays, they should have simply denied services.

    The fact that the Farber’s included the rationale of “being gay” in their letter as the reason that they would not serve the couple, shows that they are not content with living with their own beliefs, but feel the need to force them upon others, and that is not only wrong, but very un-christian like…

  25. “Just out of curiosity Mary, I honestly don’t know, but are homosexuals considered a protected group vis-a-vis race or religion in the US?”

    Not federally. Some states may consider sexual preference a protected category. (I’m betting Texas isn’t one of them.)

    However, I also have to point out that a lot of people confuse federals laws that prohibit discrimination in employment and housing to mean that discrimination is therefore prohibited in all venues of life for private citizen actions. It’s not.

  26. BigBubba2 says:

    I commend these here Garden Guy folks for taking a stand against this vile wicked lifestyle! If they choose not to do work for homosexuals so be it! I would think that now their company will be swamped with work from Moral Majority Christians in the Houston area and beyond! Figure for every potential customer they lose, homosexual or their liberal far-left supporters. Garden Guy will gain 10-12 new Moral Majority Christian work projects. Sure hope this Garden Guy goes public in the near future because I would like to buy a boat load of their stock!!!

  27. Celeste says:

    And thank god it isn’t… otherwise, some woman might get sued for not sharing her apartment with a black man, because you aren’t allowed to discriminate against race or sex. Oh, wait, that’s already happened. Or look at the trouble craigslist is getting into for people posting ads making it clear they’re looking for a certain type of compatible person to room with. You call it discrimination, I call it freedom of association.

    I also call refusing to do yardwork for a gay couple a dumb business move, but people should be free to run their businesses into the ground through bad word of mouth.

  28. ndavies says:

    Just to sum up the Gospels, Joseph gets married at like 20? even though the girl is already pregnant. Jesus lives to 33 without getting hitched, spends his adult life with a dozen guys into “brotherly love,” and the straight community persecutes him instead of legitimately convicted criminals. I don’t understand where these “accidental crusaders for Christ” are getting their info, but the J-dude’s gay.

  29. acambras says:

    Celeste — this is the first I’ve heard of the Craigslist thing. Do you have a link to any more information?

  30. Celeste says:

    Try a search on overlawyered.com, but here’s a quick link: http://www.overlawyered.com/2006/03/suing_craigslist_with_

  31. Sedona says:

    Todd and Sabrina are victims of being raised in an environment of christian fundamentalism and practicing a faith they really haven’t examined from an educated point of view. I know of where I speak because I was also raised in fundamentalism but, thankfully, I escaped. Trust me, these are “good people”…there’s no doubt in my mind about that…they are just ignorant people and unprofessional in how they conduct their business.

    However, even though they are still living in the stone age, they are private business owners and they have the “right” to decline to do business with anyone. You may not agree with their criteria for deciding what business to accept but , again, they have that right.

    Personally, I am not a fan of the gay lifestyle but I would certainly do a work project if invited to do so. However, if an invitation came to me from “Snoop Dog,” I would flat-out decline his offer. Does it have anything to do with the color of his skin? Hell no…it’s just that for me, he’s a piece of crap as a human being and I couldn’t work for him. As a private business owner, I have the right to choose who I do or do not work with for whatever my reasons are.

    Enough of this “political correctness” nonsense. The gay couple should have just told them to go to hell and have gone out to find somone who would have taken the work. But no, they had to get their panties in a twist and turn this into a gay rights issue. Hey, gays…NEWS ALERT…there are people in the world who will never accept your lifestyle. Starting an email campaign is not going to change that. Just find those business owners who will work with you (there are tons of them out there)and tell everyone else where to go.

    This is totally being blown out of proportion.

  32. acambras says:

    Huh — that’s pretty interesting, Celeste. I’m no lawyer, but I don’t understand why it would be bad to specify “female roommate wanted,” “male roommate wanted,” or “non-smoking roommate wanted.” (I’m just talking about roommates here, not landlords.)

    Now if someone put “white roommate wanted,” “straight roommate wanted,” or “Republican roommate wanted,” that would be different. It would show bigotry, not to mention disingenousness (disingenuity?) of the poster (i.e., not only are you discriminating and possibly in violation of the law, but now everyone knows you’re discriminating – a la Garden Guy).

  33. InvisibleEcho says:

    I remember once during a particularly bizarre phase of my youth, I had this dialogue with a peer:

    Me: Doesn’t freedom of speech allow me to say essentially anything I want? What’s with the hate?
    Her: Yes, you DO have freedom of speech to say ridiculous things. However, everyone else also has freedom of speech to make fun of you when you do.

    Gripping hand is that my speech was pretty ridiculous at the time. So, to sum up:
    1. It’s within the company’s rights to refuse service in a that manner where they reside.
    2. Having an intolerant attitude towards individuals with clearly bigoted agendas is not intolerance in of itself (bigotry is a choice, after all, as well as the action of reacting negatively to bigotry)
    3. Threats of sodomization are probably not the best way to protest an injustice. I can’t imagine Gandhi threatening his oppressors with a rear-action campaign.

  34. Celeste says:

    Considering that in the case of roommate ads, we’re talking about shared living space, I’d rather that someone were upfront about what they were looking for. There are plenty of gay people who would rather not try to share an apartment with a straight one, and I don’t see anything wrong with someone saying so upfront (and vice versa). It saves the people hunting for a roommate the trouble of making a call if they know the living arrangements aren’t going to be to their taste upfront. With a landlord, that’s a different story, but the landlord isn’t sleeping on the other side of an unlocked door.
    My only point being, that trying to outlaw all discrimination anywhere places a serious burden on personal liberty. People should be free to make their own choices, and everyone else should be free to mock them for it. Trying to force everyone to be nice and tolerant of everyone else is a short path towards thought crimes and totalitarianism.

  35. acambras says:

    I hear ya, Celeste, but the girl in the case who said she couldn’t see herself having a black man as a roommate because black guys scare her (said this to a black guy) — well, come on. Like I said, a little disingenous.

    I’m not trying to suborn bigotry, but if she (and the Garden Guy) had just completed the interview politely, then called back later to say “Thanks, but I’ve found a roommate” (or in Garden Guy’s case “Thanks for your interest, but we can’t take on any new clients right now”), then nothing would ever have come of it. But they gave these elaborate explanations, thus revealing their own personal prejudices.

    At worst, people that get themselves into that situation face legal consequences of discrimination (e.g., landlords, employers). But even if someone hasn’t broken any antidiscrimination laws (e.g., Garden Guy), revealing their prejudices may still bring about consequences (bad press, boycotts, people thinking the person is an asshole, etc.)

  36. The gay couple should have just told them to go to hell and have gone out to find somone who would have taken the work.

    Please, it’s not like they signed a confidentiality agreement. They didn’t do anything wrong when they posted the e-mail they recieved in that forum.

    If you think that consumers shouldn’t share their bad experiences with the public, you are visiting the wrong site.

    …I think the thing that’s getting left in the subtext here is that legally, there’s nothing wrong, but as consumers, I would want to know if someone who I may choose to do business with is anti-gay…

    Nothing to add, it simply bears repeating.

    I smell shenanigans.

    So do I.