A pair of lesbian brides-to-be were shocked to discover that the owner of a jewelry store displayed a sign opposing same-sex marriage -- just months after agreeing to design an engagement ring for them.
Pam Renouf and Nicole White of Newfoundland, Canada said they'd turned to Today's Jewellers in St. John's, which offers custom-made engagement rings, because of their "good customer services [and] good prices," CBC News is reporting.
Shortly after the couple ordered the ring, a friend of theirs dropped by the store and noticed that the shopkeepers had displayed a sign in the window which read: "The sanctity of marriage is under attack. Let's keep marriage between a man and a woman."
The friend snapped a photo for Renouf and White, who said they were shocked and upset by the move.
The sign had not been on display during the couple's previous visits to the store, The Telegram noted. The custom ring had been intended for White, as Renouf would like to return the initial proposal.
"If I had to know those posters were there beforehand, I wouldn’t give them business," White told The Telegram. "I don’t know your personal beliefs; you don’t know my personal beliefs. You know that we’re a same-sex couple, but that's fine. Keep it business."
Today's Jewellers co-owner Esau Jardon did not deny displaying the sign and stressed that he would not discriminate against a same-sex couple, but told the CBC, "Nothing in that shop or in these posters is against the law... There's nothing there that means to discriminate or to hate anybody else."
Jardon, who said his shop has displayed other religious-themed signs, then added:
When I walk on Church Street in Toronto, where I am right now, and I see [rainbow flags], and I see a lot of signs and a lot of things on public property, I don't have a problem with them. I accept it. I chose to come to Canada...and we accept the whole package...I don't discriminate against that, nor do I come and tell them to take them down. For the same reason, I ask to have the same respect in return, especially when it's in my own business.
Jardon did not discriminate or refuse service to the couple, and as a business co-owner, he has the right to display signage that promotes his personal values as he sees fit. But customers are also entitled to decline service from businesses that actively promote values that are hostile to their own. Renouf and White, however, weren't given the opportunity to make that call for themselves.
The couple, who plan to marry in August 2016, said they are hoping to get a refund on the as-yet-unfinished ring, even though shop employees said that refunds are not normally issued.
"The ring symbolizes love, and just knowing that that’s the sign that they have up there — every time I look at my ring, yes, I’ll think of us, clearly, but also everything we went through," White told The Telegram. "So I don’t want my ring from there anymore."
UPDATE May 19: Jardon has agreed to refund the couple's deposit, the CBC is reporting.
"We found the poster disrespectful and inappropriate in his place of business therefore we decided not to support his business," White, who said she and Renouf had no hard feelings toward Jardon, wrote in a Facebook post. "We will go some place else to get my dream engagement ring made."