Georgia gay man denies landscaping

Colton Southworth and his husband bought a new home in Sandy Springs, Georgia in July and, like all new homeowners, decided to style it. After being impressed with online images from Botanica Atlanta Landscape Design, Southworth decided to call the owner, Stuart DiNenno.

“I called him and our conversation lasted no more than 30 seconds,” Southworth told the Bay Area reporter in a recent interview. “I told him I recently moved to a new home in Sandy Springs and I have a big project. He asked me if this project was for me and my wife and I said, ‘No, it’s for me and my husband.’ He said he wasn’t interested in working with us. “

Southworth, 32, spoke on the phone in amazement. Originally from Charlottesville, North Carolina, he said he was never denied services because he was gay or had ever experienced such blatant discrimination.

After talking to DiNenno on the phone, Southworth decided to write a Yelp review about his experience.

“Contacted today about a very large project in Sandy Springs. The owner asked if the work was for me and my wife, I said no to myself and my husband and he replied that he was not interested in working with us”, read the review Southworth wrote on the Yelp page of Botanica Atlanta Landscape Design.

Although the local broadcaster 11 Alive has since been deleted, it broadcast a screenshot of DiNenno’s response from Yelp.

“Yes, this is an accurate description of what happened … on a major landscape project … over several months … I can’t do that while walking with the delusion of two men calling each other married couple . It’s very perverse and foolish, “DiNenno’s July 26 comment read.

Since then, the landscape design company’s Yelp page has been flooded with hundreds of reviews left by people denouncing DiNenno’s discrimination, with many calling him a fanatic.

An investigative report by 11 Alive took screenshots of now-deleted posts on DiNenno’s public Facebook page that read, “I average about one or two calls a year from sodomites or lesbians. I always turn them down.”

For Southworth, the experience was surreal.

“I felt like it was back in time,” he said. “It opened my eyes to how widespread discrimination is.”

Although DiNenno’s Yelp page now advertises a one-star rating, on average, his actions are not illegal in Georgia. The southern state is one of the country’s 26 states that have no explicit prohibitions on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, an LGBT civil rights organization, said Peach State doesn’t have anti-discrimination laws for the LGBT community, but for everyone.

“Georgia is on an even smaller list that does not contain any state non-discrimination or civil rights laws. There is nothing to be changed, it has to be created from scratch,” said Graham.

According to a GLAAD study “Accelerating Acceptance 2018”, the number of LGBT people who were discriminated against or harassed on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity rose from 44 to 55 percent nationwide in 2017.

The same is true of Georgia, Graham said, adding that while Southworth’s experience was an extreme case, discrimination was an issue.

“It is certainly a really terrible situation,” he said. “It really shows how dangerous it is to use faith as an excuse to discriminate against someone. There are so many high profile events that usually involve a wedding ceremony or weddings, but landscaping is a basic service that many people access. “

Southworth has found a new landscaping company and plans for his garden will be finalized this week. DiNenno did not respond to calls to the BAR for comment.

Advertisement attacks gay candidates from Illinois on National Coming Out Day
An altered image of Cook County gay Democratic commissioner candidate Kevin Morrison, depicting him with a floppy wrist and a puppet on tiptoe, was revealed by his opponent, Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider, on National Coming Out Day ( October 11) sent to voters.

“The fact is, I’m not at all surprised that he would bend so low,” Morrison said in an interview with the BAR.[Schneider’s] The electoral record has shown in the past that he never stood up for LGBT candidates. “

Schneider was one of only two Illinois commissioners in 2016 who voted against the signing of a Cook County Board of Commissioners resolution condemning North Carolina’s House Bill 2, better known as the “Bathroom Act,” the transgender people from using the public toilet that matches their gender identity. (It has since been changed.)

“The portrayal of me with a slack wrist, which everyone calls a bigoted caricature of gay men, is terrifying and shows nothing but an act of desperation by the chairman. He realizes we are afraid we are up and running a strong campaign, “added Morrison.

The mailer shows Mike Madigan (D), Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, as the master puppeteer with Morrison as the puppet and text that reads: “Puppetmaster Mike Madigan has Kevin ‘Madigan’ Morrison right where he wants him. Kevin ‘Madigan’ Morrison goes in lockstep with Mike Madigan and will take every opportunity to raise your property taxes. Kevin ‘Madigan’ Morrison has not paid property taxes but wants to raise our taxes. Increase our property taxes. “

Morrison said this news couldn’t be further from the truth. The first item on Morrison’s campaign website that cites his problems with the county platform is, “Fix our broken property tax system. It’s time to give our hard-working families a break here in the northwest suburbs.”

While knocking on the doors of middle-class families in the suburbs, Morrison said one of the main topics he discussed was mitigating problems related to the property tax system.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national organization dedicated to helping LGBT officials at all levels of government, publicly condemned the mailer. The organization supported Morrison.

“Let me be clear: Tim Schneider and his team knew exactly what they were doing when they modified a photo of Kevin Morrison to show him with a floppy wrist and on tiptoe,” said Annise Parker, a lesbian president and CEO from Victory Fund and a former Houston mayor said in a press release. “Schneider takes a page from his friend’s White House playbook – he’s involved in the divisive and destructive politics on which Donald Trump lives. For too long, openly LGBTQ candidates have been defeated by opponents desperate to win votes against homophobia, but I am confident that this charge of attack will backfire on Schneider. “

During his campaign, Morrison said he was fortunate to experience no discrimination outside of this incident and that “running as a viable LGBT candidate in an historically Republican borough with as much support as us is a humbling experience”.

He also said that choice was more important than ever to the LGBT community, given Trump’s rhetoric and his administration’s lack of support for the LGBT community.

Further platform points for the candidate are the support of small businesses, the implementation of a fair tax regime for families of the middle class and the assurance that the public services of the district remain adequately financed.

Schneider, who was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2006, has “spearheaded the fight against increased taxes and spending, fiscal responsibility and transparency in government,” according to his campaign website.

“It will feel great to crush such a negative voice on November 6th,” said Morrison.

Schneider did not respond to calls from the BAR for comment.

International Pronoun Day
The Santa Clara County Office of LGBTQ Affairs will attend the first International Pronoun Day on Wednesday October 17th. An email newsletter sent out by the agency said the day should focus on asking and respecting individual people’s pronouns as a common practice.

According to the website www.pronounsday.org, International Pronouns Day is an independent project. The board consists of people from various universities and crisis centers.

“Designating people by the pronouns that determine them is fundamental to human dignity,” the website says. “Being referred to with the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender-inconsistent people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s diverse, overlapping identities.”

Participants are asked to use the hashtag #PronounsDay, post their own pronouns on social media, or invite members of the community to share resources and thoughts on social media about the importance of using people’s correct pronouns.

The website also has resources including information on promoting the use of correct pronouns on business cards and email signatures, as well as information on why pronouns are important to people, and a guide to trans-student educational resources.

LGBTQ Update is a weekly online column dedicated to issues affecting the community. It runs on Tuesdays. Please send comments or column ideas to Alex Madison at (415) 875-9986 or [email protected]

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