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‘No Gays Allowed’ Sign Has Been Up for 3 Years in Tennessee

While the rest of the nation has been agonizing over whether or not a baker can legally deny gay people wedding cakes, Jeff Amyx has been proudly displaying a sign that bars all gay people from his business and harkens back to the Holocaust.

Media outlets reported yesterday that Amyx had re-installed his infamous “No Gays Allowed” on the door of Amyx Hardware & Roofing in Tennessee, three years after he reportedly removed it in favor of a gentler statement.

According to USA Today, Amyx, who is also a Baptist minister, put the sign up after Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. But he caved to pressure and softened his tone shortly after.

The new sign read, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who would violate our rights of freedom of speech & freedom of religion.”

WBIR 10 News reportedthat Amyx reinstalled the “No Gays Allowed” sign in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision this week.

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case centered on a Colorado gay couple who were refused a wedding cake in 2012 because the baker said that making a gay wedding cake went against his religious beliefs. SCOTUS overturned The Colorado Civil Rights Commision and the Colorado Court of Appeals in ruling in favor of the baker.

But the ruling largely avoided settling the ongoing clash of anti-discrimination protections versus religious liberty by only ruling that the Baker was treated unfairly by Colorado officials. As a result, just how strong anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people are, has yet to fully play out in court and future cases are expected.

“Christianity is under attack,” Amyx told the WBIR. “This is a great win, don’t get me wrong, but this is not the end, this is just the beginning. Right now we’re seeing a ray of sunshine. This is ‘happy days’ for Christians all over America, but dark days will come.”

But the WBIR later updated its story, reporting that Amyx had, in fact, displayed the “No Gays Allowed” sign for three years. When he removed it in 2015, he put it back up two days later.

A photo on the Amyx Hardware & Roofing website shows Amyx posing in front of the sign. Another shows a banner outside the business that reads, “God destroyed all the SODOMITES for and EXAMPLE.”  

The sign is entirely legal.

Tennessee has one of the least LGBTQ-friendly anti-policies on the books. The state not only fails to offer anti-discrimination protections for queer people, it is actually illegal to pass legislation protecting LGBTQ people in the state.

The rest of the country does not fare much better. According to the Movement Advancement Project, only 47 percent of queer people live in states prohibiting public accommodations discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Jenny Pizer, Law and Policy Director for Lambda Legal says the Amyx story drives home the need to pass anti-discrimination protections in every state.

“The federal public accommodations law should be updated to include sexual orientation and gender identity,” Pizer said.

Many LGBTQ advocates say the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling, while narrow, leaves room for anti-gay activists to continue chipping away at public accommodations protections.

“Homophobic forces will purposefully over-interpret the ruling and challenge existing non-discrimination laws by refusing service to LGBTQ people in even more situations, denying them dinner at a restaurant, lodging at a hotel, or renting an apartment,” said Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, in a statement.

“Unfortunately, a small number of businesses have used this conversation to show they stand on the wrong side of history,” HRC Southern States Press Secretary Nick Morrow said in a statement. “We know that there are countless other businesses — in Tennessee and around the country — who are standing together in solidarity to reject discrimination.”

Amyx did not respond to a request to comment.


Kate Sosin Oeser

Kate Sosin Oeser is a an award-winning trans reporter and former associate editor of Chicago's Windy City Times.