When St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, an LGBTQ-friendly congregation in Fargo, contacted Custom Graphics, Inc. about creating a custom logo for them, they weren’t expecting the response they received.
“Everyone was on board,” Adam Johnston, a member of the church, tells the Bismark Tribune. “They were really excited about it. And then within a week, we get an email saying, ‘Nope, we’re done. We’re not doing it.'”
The church had requested the logo be in rainbow colors, which Custom Graphics’ general manager Zach Paxton found inappropriate.
“The business was declined respectfully,” he explains. “I didn’t mean any offense by it or anything like that.”
Paxton told the church he refused to design a logo that promoted what he described as “the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement,” adding that he had “no problem” printing signs, decals or banners for the church, but “trying to come up with a logo and help them come up with ways to promote their agenda” was where he drew the line.
Ironically, however, Custom Graphics’ own logo is in big, bright, gay rainbow colors:
State Rep. Joshua Boschee, the state’s first openly gay lawmaker, says this case is yet another example of why North Dakota needs a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We don’t allow businesses to say that they’re not going to design a graphic for someone who is Muslim or someone who is disabled or someone that’s a single parent,” he said, adding that discrimination is “not a North Dakota value.”
Last session, Boschee sponsored a bill outlawing discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations such as businesses based on sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the bill was defeated. He is now encouraging St. Mark’s Lutheran Church to file an official complaint with the state Department of Labor and Human Rights.
No word yet on how the church plans to proceed.