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Restaurant Owner Gives Lesbian Couple Anti-Gay Letter

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Monday Jan 14, 2013

A lesbian couple dining at a café in New Bern, N.C.,f got something they didn't expect from the establishment's owner - a letter that condemned homosexuality and explained God's opposition to the LGBT community, New Bern ABC station NewsChannel 12 reports.

When Arielle and Shawnee McPhail left the String Ray Café in the small North Carolina city, which is 112 east of Raleigh, on Dec. 4, restaurant owner Ed McGovern handed them a letter that stated, "God said in the last days that man and wom[a]n would be lover of self, more [than] the lover of God. That man and woman would have unnatural [affection] for one another. Then, the coming of the Son of Man, who is Jesus. So please, look at your life. See how it hurt[s] everyone around you. And ask the Lord to open your eye[s] before it [is] to[o] late. The Love of Christ. P.S. my daughter also was gay. It destroy[ed] her life and my grandson."

McGovern confirmed that he gave the couple the letter but, he told the TV station that he did it "out of love." He also revealed that he had done something similar to another lesbian couple in the past. The restaurant owner said he wrote the letter because he didn't approve of the women kissing outside the café, although the couple deny having done so.

"First of all, we didn't kiss. We don't kiss in public. We were holding hands," Shawnee McPhail said. "Secondly, if I did kiss my wife in public, what married couple would you go to and say, 'how dare you. You cannot hold hands and you cannot kiss in public therefore you deserve my judgment.'"

The couple said that, while they respect McGovern's right to any opinion he wants, he went too far. "If we're experiencing it, then other people are too and that's not fair," Ariel McPhail said.

Reviews for the String Ray Café have since plummeted on Yelp!. The restaurant currently just one out of fives stars with 219 reviews.

"How could you trust a restaurant owner with such hate in his heart to prepare your food? Maybe he won't like the color of your skin, so he'll pee on your hush puppies," read one comment.

Another wrote, "Or perhaps you 'look' Muslim, and he will do worse. I feel bad for his daughter. I sincerely doubt it was being a lesbian that ruined her life -- I strongly suspect it was his lack of decent human and true Christian characteristics that did that."

Equality North Carolina, the leading LGBT rights organization in the state, released a statement about the incident criticizing McGovern. "While the discriminatory experience Ariel and Shawnee faced at New Bern's The Stingray Café is not isolated, we, as a community, must roundly condemn it and ask that this diverse Eastern North Carolina town remain on the right side of history by refusing to tolerate it," Stuart Campbell, executive director of Equality NC said.

The organization's leadership vowed to visit New Bern next month "to open a dialogue and engage residents on LGBT issues."


  • Bob K, 2013-01-14 03:40:58

    The dumb, sad cracker should have torn up their bill if he was going to insult them

  • BlondieSL, 2013-01-14 10:52:59

    These types of cave-dwellers, NEED to learn that if they want to run a business, they CAN NOT discriminate, PERIOD! Using a business to propagate their own antiquated, hateful and frankly, JUST PLAIN WRONG, opinions, is not the way to do things. If they want to spread their bullshit, then take it to their cave (church) and do it to each other. This is just sickening to see this crap happening in 2013. I sincerly hope that people boycot that place. I’d LOVE to see a huge group of Gay people AND supportive straight people gather in front of their restaurant with huge signs letting people know of their Homophobia.

  • , 2013-01-14 11:27:12

    What a hypocrite! He takes money from LGBT patrons and then insults them as they walk out the door. This idiot should at least have the decency to hang a sign in the window of his establishment that states, "Heterosexuals Only" to warn all decent people what sort of business he’s running.

  • , 2013-01-14 12:58:54

    I respect the owner’s right to have his own opinion, but what he did to his customers is unexcusable and unprofessional. In the workplace, discrimination should not ever be accepted - especially against customers!!!One day, this crap will be a thing of the past. One day we will be able to love whomever we wish without being treated as sub-humans and second-class citizens!

  • Bomonghani, 2013-01-14 16:48:04

    This "cave-dweller"’s business is already in ruin b/c there are so many bottom feeders out there who make a damn mountain out of a mole hill... Yes the letter was a bit past the point of need... However, I don’t see where he wrote "stop kissing you in front of my resturant semi-driving, flannel-wearing dykes!" The guy has his opinions, that’s his right... He could have been a total asshole about it-but wasn’t... In his mind he probably felt that her was doing right... My roman-catholic grandmother loves me, but we don’t talk about being gay because she doesn’t agree with it (and has told me so). Does that make her a (church) cave-dweller? Christ, everyone here cries "homophob" anytime they feel that someone slighted an lgbt, but I’m beginning to believe that the ratio of hetrophobes here far exceeds the homophobes out there.

  • , 2013-01-14 18:36:39

    While we may not agree with it, this man is entitled to his opinion. No matter how misguided, he did do it out if love. Lets worry about the people that do things out of hatred. Lord knows, there’s enough of them out there.

  • cc, 2013-01-14 20:28:47

    This couple did not ask this man for his opinion. Yes, he is entitled to his opinion and his religious beliefs but the Constitution trumps both. If he wants to operate a business that serves the public then he needs to follow the law and not discriminate. I saw and heard this many times while growing up in the South in the 1950s

  • Oh Jed said:, 2013-01-14 23:57:17

    This man is coming from ignorance and fear, not love. The odds are good he fucked up his daughter’s head and blamed her difficulties in life on her orientation and lifestyle. He needs to mind his own god damn business.

  • Bomonghani, 2013-01-15 01:22:47

    Cc, they may not have asked for his help... But has every woman stranded on the side of the road asked for a mans help? Has every handicap-wheelchair bound person asked people to hold the door for them? No... And quite frankly,i know many who are offended... Why? Same b/s mental malfunction... People are so damn quick to see the bad in others that they can’t fathom someone elses actions as having good intent.

  • Bomonghani, 2013-01-15 01:42:46

    Furthermore, cc, I’m confused as to what the constitution trumps... If anything it only validates the owner’s right to freedom of speech. As to discrimination, I believed that the ladies were served, and maybe I missed something but it seemed like any other meal until the letter.

  • , 2013-01-20 02:37:43

    Love does not judge. Furthermore, it is totally hypocritical to be willing to accept these women’s money but then actively condemn them as people. The owner does have a right to free speech and he exercised it. The right to free speech does not guarantee protection from civil reprecussions, only criminal ones. So, these women have the right to stage a boycott of his restaurant and to draw attention to his homophobia. Also, it is correct that this is not discrimination. If he had refused to serve them because they were lesbians, that would have been discrimination. Still, he chose to proselytize in his place of business and there are consequences for that choice. If these ladies had been of an ethnic group and he had asserted that their group were Satan’s children, orwere destroying the world (both ideas have been espoused by fringe "Christians" as being written in the Bible), perhaps it would be easier to grasp how inappropriate this was.

  • , 2013-01-26 01:04:41

    I’m from New Bern.... not surprised this happened... its the kind of place that makes you want to stay deep inside the glad I left this place behind.

  • , 2013-01-30 11:27:22

    Let all of us understand that while the owner of the Stingray Resturaunt is truly outside his ownership rights in treating his two customers the way he did, and yes this incident is bad manners, terrible for business, insulting and scarry on many different levels, keep in mind this type behavior is not isolated to New Bern, North Carolina. We should all be looking around ourselves in our own local communities and pointing out the fact that this type behavior might just be happening to people where we all live across the United States. The Chamber of Commerce in New Bern should be immediately organizing community educational dialogue on GLBT tourism and GLBT community relationships. The City of New Bern’s elected officials should be immediately issueing a community wide appology to Arielle and Shawnee McPhail, just so they are made to feel at home and welcome within their own City, but also because the City of New Bern should not allow itself to be stigmatized by the hatefull actions of one business owner ... unfortunately to date no appology or community educational dialogue has taken place in New Bern or most of any other communities across the USA. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina and work daily on community organizing and community dialogue concerning GLBT issues... just a little over 100 miles west of New Bern our City of Raleigh governmental climate toward and for GLBT people is different than in sister City of New Bern.

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