PORTLAND -- A new Westmoreland grocery isn't even open yet and already its owner has created a controversy with statements she made online. But the owner told KGW Thursday she wants to make amends.
In about one week Chauncy Childs plans to open her natural grocer on Southeast Milwaukie Avenue. But after a series of postings she made on her Facebook page, she now finds herself at the often dangerous intersection where social media and gay rights meet.
The Moreland Farmer's Pantry will offer fresh produce, raw milk and foods that are free of genetic engineering.
Westmoreland resident Sean O’Riordan was looking forward to the store opening. But his neighbors started expressing concern to him.
“People were then starting to say, ‘Did you see the owner’s Facebook page?” O’Riordan said.
O'Riordan didn't like the store owner's posts regarding gay people and same sex marriage. For him it's very personal. He lost his gay brother to AIDS.
“He was loyal to a fault and would do anything for you,” O’Riordan said. “He was persecuted because he was gay, and it’s not a right. It’s not a right.”
O'Riorden made a YouTube video highlighting the business owner's posts, including an article headlined “Yes, of course a business owner should have the right to refuse service to gay people.”
(Video below was taken down on April 4)
Childs said she believes the idea but not the practice.
“What I believe is that…a private business has the right,” Childs said.
She went on to say that she would not personally deny someone service at her store.
“Absolutely not,” Childs said. “Absolutely, unequivocally, totally not.”
Now people like Sean O'Riordan must decide if that answer is enough, or if it means this grocer will get none of his business.
“I would say that I’m sorry to the people who I have offended,” Childs said. “I genuinely feel that way and I hope we can make amends.”
Childs says she will donate to a gay suicide prevention group as a gesture, she says, to make peace.