“I am a biblical Christian and I do not believe in homosexual marriage, that’s correct. And because marriage is a covenant that God created for man and woman, as a biblical Christian, I cannot help them into or celebrate that sin.”
Those are the words of Kristen Stewart, the bar manager for the University Club in Moline, Illinois, as told to my colleague, Chris Minor, a reporter at WQAD-TV, the ABC affiliate in Moline.
Stewart was defending her decision, based on her religious beliefs, not to rent the facilities to a gay couple that called earlier this week inquiring about a location to hold their wedding reception.
Taylor Shumaker, of Davenport, Iowa, was surprised by Stewart’s reaction. Shumaker tells Chris Minor, “And she asked if “he” would be coming and I just said no, it’s not actually a “he.” It’s a “she,” and she said, ‘excuse me?'”
Schumaker told the bar manager, “I said, it’s a woman, and she said oh, we don’t rent to homosexual couples.”
When confronted with fact that same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa and civil unions are in place in Illinois, Kristen Stewart said, “My husband’s family does not hold the same view. If there is a homosexual couple I will pass them onto them. I have told him if they want to do homosexual receptions I would not have any part of that. He and his family have decided they will.”
Stewart’s husband, Perry, is the President of the University Club and his family owns the business located in the downtown area.
This morning, I talked with Perry Stewart and he reiterated to me that those are definitely his wife’s views and they do not reflect his views or the views of the business. He called the incident, “regretful”.
In our conversation, he told me, “Kristen will no longer be doing any new events. She will handle the events already in the books. Most likely, me, or someone else, will handle new events.” He went on to say that “Kristen is sorry that she hurt someone else. She now realizes that. Her religious views have not changed, but she is sorry that she hurt someone.”
Perry Stewart also told me that he has contacted Taylor Shumaker and offered to show her the facility and he apologized. He also says that she refused and he understands that.
However, Taylor tells me today that Perry Stewart never contacted her and apologized!!!!
Taylor says, “Well, we have a lot of other venue options to consider, so we will keep searching for that perfect location. We aren’t exactly sure of the month, but we are leaning towards April or May of 2013.”
Chris Minor’s story is at the bottom of this blog.
Those are the facts of the story. Now, here’s my take.
Kristen Stewart has a right to her opinions, just as I have a right to mine. However, when I go on the air each time to do weather, my personal beliefs are left at the door. My personal views and my professional life remain separated. I’m sure my employer would not be too happy with me if I interjected my political, religious, or my views on sexuality into my weather forecasts.
The same should be expected from Kristen Stewart. If she answers the telephone, responds to emails, or meets with potential clients, she is representing the University Club. It doesn’t matter what her personal views are since she is representing the business that obviously has a different view on gay couples having a reception there.
Everyone has a right to their opinion and Kristen Stewart has a right to her close-minded, blatantly un-Christianlike, and very unprofessional one. She has a right to her views and I have a right to mine and I hope the University Club loses business for it. Her job is public service and that means serving the public that includes gays, blacks, Asians, the challenged, or whatever. Otherwise, it’s called “discrimination”.
Meanwhile, when I talked with Perry Stewart, her husband, his voice was genuine. I believed him and I didn’t think it was total “damage control” for his wife’s actions. However, after Taylor told me that he did not contact her or apologize, I’m not so sure anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!
However, I would not want to do business with them personally. Last summer, when we were planning our reception, Ray emailed Kristen Stewart. In his email, he just said “we” were planning our reception and that we were considering the University Club. I wonder if he had said “my husband” if we would have gotten the same response. We ended up going a different route for our reception.
I feel for Taylor Shumaker and her partner. She faced discrimination first hand and no one should have to deal with that. I’m glad that Perry offered his services to Taylor and I’m happy she refused them. She will find a beautiful place to share that incredible day with her partner and their friends and family.
I really think that Perry Stewart and the University Club of Moline should send the happy couple a very nice wedding present and many bottles of sparkling champagne as a measure of good faith and to make up for the pain that Taylor felt after talking with Kristin Stewart.
Chris Minor’s story from WQAD: