Local business owner takes stand on state’s legislation

A local business owner recently made the decision to let his customers know where he stands when it comes to whom he will serve.

And to make sure people know that position, he has placed a sticker on the window of his business that states “This business serves everyone.”

The window stickers have begun going up on the windows of some Hoosier businesses in recent days after Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act a week ago.

Some critics claim the act allows businesses to discriminate against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Pence and the Republican-controlled legislature have spent this week trying to address those claims.

For Jared Hirtzel of Seymour, the passage of that the act doesn’t make a lot of sense.

“I don’t know why they passed it,” said Hirtzel, who owns The Dapper Dog Grooming shop in downtown Seymour.

Hirtzel put one of the stickers on the door of his business Saturday and said it doesn’t make good business sense to not serve everyone.

“I’m here to serve people,” Hirtzel said. “I’m not in business to judge people.”

The $10 stickers, created by Valparaiso native Josh Driver about two weeks ago, are available through the website openforservice.org.

The website said the organization is a “nonpartisan, nonjudgmental group looking to provide a grassroots network to support businesses that open their doors for everyone — black, white, gay, straight, Christian, atheist, disabled … well, you get our drift.”

John Burkhart, director of the Jackson County Visitor Center, said it surprised him to learn that the visitor center in Bartholomew County had been receiving calls from people canceling their plans to visit the Columbus area because of the passage of the act.

“We haven’t had a call here,” Burkhart said.

He said the visitor center board met Wednesday and a couple of board members associated with the hotel industry said there has been a few cancellations recently.

“And when they try to figure out why, a few involve the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Burkhart said. “But just a very few.”

He said the local hotel industry is concerned about losing reservations in general.

“The message from the visitor center is that we are open,” Burkhart said. That means to everyone, he said.

He also said he doesn’t know of any local business owners willing to discriminate.

Where to buy a window sticker

Valparaiso native Josh Driver recently created a website that provides window stickers with the message “This Business Serves Everyone” for $10. It also is planning to launch a database of participating businesses.

Information: openforservice.org

Author photo
Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.