The owner of a Michigan auto repair shop said Thursday he's received threats of violence after making a social media post indicating he'd refuse service to "openly gay" people, and he refuted claims that his message was intended to drum up attention and secure funding through donations.
"Listen up folks, If you have an opposing view to mine that IS OK, what is NOT OK is threats to kill me, my family, and friends," Brian Klawiter wrote in a Thursday morning post on Facebook.
The drama for Klawiter, the owner of Dieseltec, in Grandville, near Grand Rapids, began early Tuesday when he wrote that he welcomed guns in his shop, but would refuse service to "an openly gay person or persons"
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"Enough is enough," Klawiter wrote. "Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works."
Conversely, discounts would be given to customers who bring in a gun, he said. That applies to off-duty officers, as well.
"On duty" cops are excluded because thats not their gun, thats my gun bought with my money," he clarified.
The comments by the self-proclaimed conservative Christian, the first public ones made on the Facebook page since before Christmas, drew the wide range of responses one would expect. There were words of support: "let him run his business how he wants to," others of condemnation: "Why dont you keep your bigoted thoughts to yourself," and still others intended only to provoke.
Klawiter denied his post was an effort to generate publicity for his business.
"We are a successful business and are blessed to be able to feed our families. If there is any money raised it will be redistributed to people with greater needs than ours," Klawiter wrote.
The Huffington Post pointed out that an account established on the fundraising website GoFundMe.com was removed after it was created.
An Indiana restaurant owner last month said it would deny a gay couple's request to cater a wedding. A subsequent GoFundMe account had collected more than $800,000 as of Thursday afternoon.
Liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan called for a boycott of Klawiter's shop.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation has not been outlawed in Michigan, though several municipalities have local ordinances on the matter. While Grandville is not one of them, the city's mayor said he's open to discussing that option with citizens.
"There are many people who have deeply held, sincerely held, very conservative religious and political beliefs. But on the other hand, that same group of people is a very kind group of people that does not tolerate bigotry and intolerance, so it would be very interesting to see that debate," Mayor Steve Maas told NBC station WOOD-TV.