Conservative group says it was denied reservation at restaurant because of beliefs
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT/Gray News) - A faith-based conservative organization says its members were denied a dinner reservation at a Virginia restaurant over their political views.
Victoria Cobb, the president of Family Foundation of Virginia, said the organization made reservations at Metzger Bar & Butchery in Richmond a few weeks ago for a holiday dinner.
Last week, Cobb said the organization was contacted an hour before the 20-person dinner party. Cobb told WWBT that the restaurant told them they would be refusing their prior reservation.
“I’m very surprised to find out that a restaurant wouldn’t serve our organization,” Cobb said. “It was reserved several weeks in advance. We didn’t have any problems leading up to it, but an hour and a half before, we were told we were not welcome here.”
The Family Foundation of Virginia describes itself as an organization that advocates for policies based on Biblical principles, according to its website.
“We are directly involved with many controversial, political and public policy issues, and we advocate the general assembly and local school boards for the flourishing of families,” Cobb said.
The owners of Metzger’s released a statement on social media shortly after the reservation was canceled. In the statement, the restaurant owners said they believed the Family Foundation was “a group of donors to a political organization that seeks to deprive women and LGBTQ+ persons of their basic human rights in Virginia.”
Cobb said the owners are hypocritical by choosing to discriminate against an organization for any reason, especially politically motivated ones.
“It’s amazing that the restaurant can put out a statement that is cloaked in all these words about welcoming and tolerance and their actions being so intolerant and bigoted toward another group of people. It’s disturbing,” Cobb said.
However, LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Equality Virginia believes the actions of Metzger’s owners were justified.
“The majority of their staff are women or people who are part of the LGBTQ community, so I can understand their decision to want to support and protect their staff,” executive director Narissa Rahman said.
The debate over individuals choosing to deny customers goods and services based on political motivations has been spreading across the country.
In Colorado, a dispute between a Christian web designer who objected to providing services to same-sex couples has made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Despite the similarities in scenarios, Cobb said she believes the reservation case is a matter of free speech, not food service.
“We don’t want to compel people to speak messages they don’t agree with, but we would like to see charity in all of our Richmond businesses that do basic things like food service,” Cobb said.
Equality Virginia said nothing is stopping the Family Foundation from going to another restaurant, and the Family Foundation says it was able to find another dinner reservation.
“I think that the love Metzger has received over the past few days sends a message that equality is good for business,” Rahman said.
Although there is legislation on the books that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in Virginia, there are no laws prohibiting the denial of services based on political views.
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