Gay rabbinical student, booted from pizzeria, is awarded damages

Gay rabbinical student, booted from pizzeria, is awarded damages March 12, 2019
Image via Facebook

AFTER he was shown the door by an employee at a pizzeria in Jerusalem, Sammy Kanter, above, an American rabbinical student, took legal action against the food outlet – and won.

What upset the Ben Yehuda 2 pizzeria worker was Kanter’s rainbow T-shirt which bore the word “Cincy”, short for his home town of Cincinnati.

When the employee spotted the T-shirt, he asked Kanter “Atah Homo (are you gay)?”. When the 32-year-old student confirmed that he was, he was shown the door and told to get out, along with two friends. The incident occurred when they were attending the city’s LGBTQ pride weekend last year.

But it was it only recently that Kanter was informed that a court claim he made against the pizzeria had succeeded, and Ben Yehuda 2 was ordered to pay him around $4,500 in damages.

Kanter was helped with lawsuit by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the social justice arm of the Reform movement in Israel.

Kanter said that at first, he couldn’t believe he had faced discrimination in a place where:

All Jews are supposed to feel at home.

But after going through the trial and winning, Kanter said he now feels a deeper sense of belonging in Israel. He said he hasn’t encountered any other instances of being discriminated against for his sexual orientation during his time in Jerusalem.

The outpouring of support from people around Israel, the incredible team at Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), and the outcome of the trial made me realize that Israel offers me protections for being gay that even the United States doesn’t offer. While this protection is in place, there is still a long way to go to make sure all LGBT people feel safe and secure in this entire country.

Kanter says that he plans to donate the money from his legal victory to IRAC:

To continue fighting for religious equality, specifically for Reform Jews, here in Israel.

Image via Facebook

Now it just so happens that yesterday I received a very abusive email from a fella called Alan Thom, who called me a “rat” and accused me of “arrogance” for writing a “filthy” column in Spain’s weekly  Euro Weekly News about a gay couple in Indiana  – Bailey and Samantha Brazzel, above – who who were refused service by a tax consultant called Nancy Fivecoat because they were in a same-sex marriage. I ended the piece by writing:

Feel free to disagree with me, but I firmly believe that if people set out to make a living by providing a public service, that’s precisely what they should do. And if they feel that some of their customers are unworthy of receiving equal treatment, perhaps they should find alternative vocations that don’t bring them into contact with the general public. Becoming nomadic goat-herders in a remote region of Namibia may suit them better.   

Well Thom certainly did disagree. My article, he said:

Fills me with revulsion for you. How dare you attack a straight person who does not wish to do business with a homosexual. 

He blathered on about gay people nowadays being given “great latitude” but, despite this, still “demand preferential treatment.”

I replied:

I am sorry that my article filled you with “revulsion” but a single chicken will provide you with four drumsticks and eight wings before I offer an apology or a retraction.

I grew up in an era in South Africa when services were denied to people of colour. I passionately believed then that racism was utterly contemptible and think the same today. Ditto homophobia. My article clearly pointed out that  people who have businesses have a duty to provide their services to ALL their clients, and if they cannot do so they should find some other occupation. Nowhere did I suggest that gay people should get preferential treatment, just simple equality.

If you think customers who wants their taxes filled in by a professional, or have an invitation printed, or a same-sex wedding cake created should be insulted and belittled because of their sexual orientation, then I can only assume that you are in favour of gross discrimination …

When, for example, it became illegal in the UK for businesses to post “No Irish, No Blacks” notices on their doors and windows, people who belonged in these groups were not “given great latitude”. They were simply accorded equal rights and given the freedom to exercise those rights.

Since then, many countries have, to their credit, passed laws to prevent discrimination against minorities, and if business owners believe they can flout those laws by waving a bloody Bible about and shriek out Jesus’ name, they should be called out, shamed, boycotted and sued. As a militant atheist, I have nothing but contempt for religion, and will express that contempt whenever I see it impinging negatively on people’s lives …

If my “filthy” article about the lesbian couple –  who, incidentally, have thanked me profusely for writing it – filled you with revulsion and rage, I guess my next column about Brexshit and the intolerance, racism and the hatred it has unleashed will send your blood pressure into the stratosphere. Best not read it, eh?

This further infuriated him:

The most offensive part of your disgusting reply is that you confess to being a militant atheist, @ that you have nothing but contempt for religion. This confirms my opinion of you – a singularly minded rat of the first order.

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  • CoastalMaineBird

    a singularly minded rat of the first order.

    So, those who call you a third-class rat just don’t appreciate you !

    Seriously, Barry, thanks for all you do.

  • Etranger

    Keep up the excellent work!!

  • Jennny

    Well said in your Euro Weekly News article. I take it from his last sneering comment that he is a x-tian who hates us hateful, violent, rebellious,militant, feminist atheists? If I’m correct, can’t you just feel the jesus-love oozing out of every fibre of his being? Wow, some of us might, if he shrieks at the ceiling long and hard enough, get saved and become intolerable hateful bigots,just like he is!

  • llDayo

    Hopefully this guy soon realizes that he breathes the same air as homosexuals and in an attempt to not “catch the gay” he holds his breath indefinitely.

  • Broga

    Good stuff, Barry.

  • barriejohn

    What does “singularly minded” mean? Still, “rat of the first order” DOES sound like a real compliment!

    And as for the American student, he’s obviously having far more fun than is good for a person, which is what they REALLY can’t stand, so good for him.

  • Götterdämmerung

    Excellent stuff Barry. Well done for calling out these bible thumping bigots.

  • HematitePersuasion

    Yet another shining example of Christian love and joy

    The most offensive part of your disgusting reply is that you confess to being a militant atheist, @ that you have nothing but contempt for religion. This confirms my opinion of you – a singularly minded rat of the first order.

    in response to daring to diverge from that self-identifying Christian’s personal version of Christianity.

  • I grew up with those Bible-thumping types, and the church I grew up in is quite anti-LGBT and proud of it. (They consider being called “bigot”, “intolerant”, and/or “hater” to be part of the price for following Jesus, which also means “Don’t even think about being inclusive!”)

    As for me, I moved into the dorms at university in January (at age 33), and a large number of my friends are in the LGBTQ community, inc my bff. I recently was overcome by RAGE over how I was taught, that showing love to my new friends meant going on about Jesus and demanding they conform to cisheteronormativity, or I would be responsible if God tortures them for all eternity. (Me: I am not, Jesus Freaks! Your god is alone responsible; the asshole should consider not torturing people. He surely is capable of that, but refuses to do so. Oh yeah, Bible-thumpers: I don’t fucking give a rat’s ass if you think what I say is arrogant and blasphemy [as for the latter, our own Bible says slander is a sin]; after all, Jesus was accused of blasphemy.)

    (P.S.: lest I be accused of being anti-Christian, I *am* a Christian, and, like Jesus, I feel like flipping over tables over this.)

    I am amazed by how angry this makes me.

  • Barry Duke

    When I posted a link to this report on my Facebook page, the proprietor of EWN, Michel Euesden reacted with a touch of hyperbole: “If you are a rat Barry Duke then you are the most incredible RAT in the world!

    “One of the finest journalists ever who has fought the battle for the underdog with the power of the pen not the sword! I still cannot believe that I am lucky enough to work with such an awesome artist as yourself! And that is what you are my friend. A disguised artist! Please remember aggression against others usually derived from fear! Team EWN are so proud!”

    This further enraged Thom, who wrote: “To team ewn if you are so proud of such an anti religious person then that places you in the same boat! I note you are careful to write a disclaimer re the stuff you publish, but to me you have just revealed what a bigoted bunch you are! A person who has admitted to being a militant atheist is defended by you! What a broad spectrum of life that portrays! That is why I called him a rat!!!”

  • Jim Jones

    > who who were refused service by a tax consultant called Nancy Fivecoat because they were in a same-sex marriage.

    Are they required by the IRS to pay taxes?

    The IRS is a central part of the US government. If they will accept taxes from gay people then you have no right to discriminate against them in violation of federal government policies and procedures.

    So fuck you, Nancy Fivecoat.

  • otrame

    No. I don’t think that is going to happen.

  • I agreed up until the part about the same sex wedding cake. That refusal of service could be part of a larger religious freedom argument … and that argument has some grounding even if it is ultimately rejected. But doing taxes is an act completely separate from any religious claims. This would be more like a baker refusing to sell ANY cake to a gay person rather than being asked to design a wedding cake. The Masterpiece bake shop owner did not refuse to serve the couple – he just did not want to participate in their marriage on religious grounds. I believe these are distinctions with some merit.

  • Trellia

    Rats are intelligent, compassionate, sweet, and have helped save lives in medicine. Sounds like a compliment to me.

  • Zetopan

    “a singularly minded rat of the first order.”

    Ninth order rat here Barry, whishing that I could achieve your level of excellence!