Jul 09, 2012 4:40 AM GMT
wral.comNC court rules website must accept straight visitors
In what has been a largely unknown battle, John Harper was ordered by a NC court to open his website to heterosexual patrons. Mavenrestin.com, once an a social networking site strictly for non-heterosexuals, was sued by Reverend Steven Wade, a local Reverend of Poplar Springs Baptist Church, for catering strictly to heterosexuals.
When WRAL interviewed Wade about his motivation to bring a lawsuit against the relatively small site, Wade stated, "It is clear discrimination. I have seen heterosexual websites punished for disallowing gays, it seems only fair. Aren't homosexuals all about equality?"
Harper responded. "This is just plain wrong. Homosexuals are a protected minority class. There are plenty of sites out there for them. This is a personal attack by Steve because he feels a gay site based in his hometown of Bunn . . . it is somehow threatening his church and values."
Harper feels the court's decision is a slap in the face of the gay identity. He said opening his site to everyone doesn't add a significant cost to his business, but as a gay man, he is disappointed he can't create something that better represents his own identity. "Knowing it was a site for gay people by gay people made me excited about it. I was proud to be the owner and in a way, it was my way of being a gay advocate," he is reported as saying.
Gay activists worry this could be another mode of attack by conservatives. Mike Ward, the attorney of Harper, and a self proclaimed LGBT ally, says advocates of gay rights should be worried about this small victory for conservatives. "What's to stop conservative leaders from weakening the effectiveness and solidarity of gay functions and events by proclaiming they discriminate against heterosexuals?," he expressed to reporters.
Harper went on to say that he does not wish to fight the matter further because of the high cost of court, and the fact that he has already reprogrammed his site to have separate distinctions for people of any orientation. But he now feels the need to be more active in the gay community and more active at pushing for equality. He and his close friends are working on a petition for the NC legislature that would make sexual orientation a protected class.