A gay couple has been banned from an eastern Texas restaurant, according to a new report from CBS-DFW.
The establishment, Big Earl’s Bait House and Country Store, is considered an institution in the town of Pittsburg, Texas, having stayed in business for several years and won the hearts (and stomachs) of area residents.
That reputation led Collin Dewberry and his partner Kelley to see what all the fuss was about one morning.
Dewberry admitted that all was well until he paid for the check. At that moment, he alleges that the waitress’s demeanor changed.
Owner Big Earl Cheney takes it from there:
“She told them the rules are on the door and it says, ‘Welcome to Big Earl’s where men act like men, women act like ladies, no saggy pants and we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.'”
Dewberry laughed at the waitress and asked what she meant. “And that’s when she said to us, ‘To put it plainly, we don’t serve f*gs here.'”
The waitress, Big Earl’s daughter, used “her own words,” Cheney said, adding that he didn’t “think I should have disciplined her.”
“I think the parents of those children — or kids or being whatever they are — should discipline them or teach ’em how to act in public [referring to the gay couple banned].”
He added: “I don’t think it’s my place to discipline her.”
Furthermore, Cheney attested that she had good reason to ban Dewberry and his partner. “What I saw was one of them halfway under the table with his legs stretched out into the other guy’s lap,” Cheney said. “And he kind of looked really possum-eyed at me as they say it in East Texas, he kind of looked at me like ‘uh-oh.'”
Dewberry insists that “nothing inappropriate” was going on. “We’re sitting on separate sides of the booth and really not even doing much talking. Because it was early in the morning and we were just sitting around waiting for our breakfast,” he explained, adding that city officials he approached about the incident told him not to contact Cheney.
“One of them used the word ‘bigot.'”
To that, Cheney takes exception.
“Homosexuality, Blacks, Hispanics — they all come in here — everybody comes in here to eat. I’ve served my country for over 20 years,” he said. “I know what my freedoms are. I’m not gonna have people coming in here with their butt showing; I’m not gonna have people coming in here naked; I’m not gonna have people coming in here having sex on the tables.”
John Nechman, a Gay Rights Attorney, admitted that Dewberry probably doesn’t have a case against Big Earl.
“There’s really no protections to go after someone because they’ve made a slur,” he told CBS-DFW. “Now if they made a slanderous statement, a libelous statement, where they claimed for example that the two were committing an act that they didn’t do, there would be legal action to take against them.”
One thing Dewberry’s supporters have done in reaction, is take to Yelp with strangely positive reviews that paint the establishment as Pittsburg’s hottest gay bar.
One commenter wrote: “this place is great … you can really let your freak flag fly here.” Another: “I’m a dude. I like dudes. And I appreciate a place where dudes can hang out together in dude-company.”
Do you think the gay couple banned from Big Earl’s were engaged in inappropriate activity, or did Big Earl target them specifically for their orientation? And as for the Yelpers now targeting the restaurant, do you think they’re being fair or stepping over-the-line? Share your thoughts in our comments section.