Founded in 2005, Etsy.com conjures images of virtual hippie stores selling home-made ceramics and rainbow-scented candles. The E-commerce site even brags that it is “bringing heart to commerce and making the world more fair, more durable, and more fun.”
But apparently that’s not universally the case. One particular owner allegedly is hawking right-wing antipathy to marriage equality.
Jami Howard was searching for guest book covers for her own same-sex nuptials when she happened upon Paledesigns, which featured Mickey ears and balloons on happy couples. What started as cordial back and forth with the owner, identified on the shop page as Jessica Fong, went awry when Howard revealed that she had a same-sex partner.
Then she received the following message:
Sorry for the late reply!
After talking with my pastor and praying about the situation, I decided that I shouldn’t design your guestbook for you.
Please know that I did take this into much thought though. Because I am a Christian and I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, I feel that designing a customized guestbook for you two will be against my belief and will mean that who I am and my business supports gay marriages.
I hope that you understanding [sic]. Sorry for staying in contact with you for so long and not giving you a concrete response until now.
We just love that Ms. Fong is apologetic for her slow response but not for denigrating the priceless, happy occasion of a fellow human being. We also love that she seems to think that simple exclusion and cruelty are “Christian” principles. For the sake of the future of religion, we hope that is not the case.
Attempts to reach Fong were not immediately successful, but in an email exchange with Queerty, Howard expressed shock at the refusal of service:
I was completely outraged at the fact that I was “seemingly” having a pleasant conversation with this shop owner about creating an image to be a part of our guest book. The first couple of messages I sent were just talking about how excited we were because we both love Disney and this theme looked perfect for our special day, with some minor changes. When I dropped the “Gay” bomb, things completely changed. I just wonder if there is anything that Etsy.com itself has to say about this kind of discrimination. If sexual orientation can be discriminated against on Etsy, what other kinds of discrimination are they also okay with shop owners getting away with? Also, newsflash: Disney loves the gays. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. Etsy provided no outlet for us to leave a comment or anything like that so we (my fiance’ Lindsay and I) took to the Facebook.
Etsy’s terms of service allow shop owners to refuse service as long as they communicate clearly with potential buyers. But it also reserves the right to suspend shops that abuse the privilege. Isn’t discrimination an abuse? After all, there is no rational basis for it. And it actually goes against the company’s mission statement of making commerce and the world “more fair.”
Et tu, Etsy… ?