Friday, December 10, 2010

Just Cookies and Discrimination: Another View

The business Just Cookies has reached an agreement with the city's Equal Opportunity board to continue operations within the publicly owned Indianapolis City Market. The owners of the business refused an order for an LGBT group based out of the IUPUI campus. When questioned by media why the order was refused, owner David Stockton cited his two young daughters and the family values they strive to teach them. This set off controversy that alleged that Just Cookies discriminated against the LGBT group on the basis of sexual orientation, which would violate the municipal Human Rights Ordinance passed in late 2005.

The LGBT community was "helped" when several members of Indiana Equality published an editorial in The Indianapolis Star saying that the HRO was never meant to prevent private establishments from discriminating. Two of the authors of the article, Jackie Nytes and Scott Keller, are current and former City-County Council representatives, respectively, and were sponsors of the HRO.

As part of the agreement, Just Cookies has to post signs indicating they won't discriminate. Stockton, when questioned by the media, refused to comment and referred the reporter to his lawyer.

If I was Stockton or a higher up at the struggling City Market, I couldn't have asked for a better day filled with big news items to make sure the local story gets buried on news web sites and in the morning's newspaper. The piece of garbage that held Elizabeth Smart hostage for nine months was convicted despite an attempt at an insanity plea. Several stories have been extensively covered that are coming from the so-called "lame duck" session of the United States Congress with pieces of legislation the Democrats wanted to pass before the new Congress takes over in January. Fox 59's home page has the story listed last on their front page area of latest news stories, and it doesn't seem like any of the other news media web sites have a story up*

From what I've learned of the Stocktons since this story broke, I doubt that they've learned anything. It's really sad, because I think many in the LGBT community would've wanted this to be a learning experience and to advance LGBT equality rather than to hang Just Cookies and the City Market out to dry. Instead, the Stockton's lawyered up and are doing the bare minimum to cover their ass. I doubt anyone from the IUPUI group that was originally discriminated against or anyone from the LGBT community was involved or even talked to throughout this process.

Another wasted opportunity to advance Indianapolis' corner of the world, and another example of how many laws in this town aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

*Update: When I originally published this story, Fox59's web page had their story on Just Cookies on their front page. I can no longer find it there only a few hours later.

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