On December 4, 2012, a lesbian couple in New Bern, North Carolina was enjoying an evening out on a Friday night. They were surprised to see that after they paid their bill at The Stingray Café, they got a tip from the owner of the restaurant: don’t be gay!
Owner Ed McGovern handed Ariel and Shawnee McPhail a letter reading:
God said in the last days that man and wom[a]n would be lover of self, more [than] the lover of God. That man and woman would have unnatural [affection] for one another. Then, the coming of the Son of Man, who is Jesus. So please, look at your life. See how it hurt[s] everyone around you. And ask the Lord to open your eye[s] before it [is] to[o] late.
The Love of Christ
P.S. my daughter also was gay. It destroy[ed] her life and my grandson.
“While the discriminatory experience Ariel and Shawnee faced at New Bern’s The Stingray Café is not isolated, we, as a community, must roundly condemn it and ask that this diverse Eastern North Carolina town remain on the right side of history by refusing to tolerate it,” said Stuart Campbell, Executive Director of Equality NC.
When NewsChannel 12 called and asked questions, McGovern confirmed that he absolutely did give the couple the letter and that it was “out of love.” He claims this isn’t the first time he’s written notes to gay couples. He said that he was prompted to write the note when he saw the couple kissing outside of the restaurant. He didn’t like that, he said. The McPhails were baffled by his statement. They said they didn’t kiss outside the restaurant.
“First of all, we didn’t kiss. We don’t kiss in public. We were holding hands,” said Shawnee McPhail. “Secondly, if I did kiss my wife in public, what married couple would you go to and say, ‘how dare you. You cannot hold hands and you cannot kiss in public therefore you deserve my judgement?’”
Residents in New Bern and other places have expressed their outrage at McGovern’s actions, and many were customers. He may have acted “out of love,” he’s not getting a lot of love on Yelp or The Stingray Café’s online guestbook.
Some of the comments:
- “Capt Ed , I hope your get what you deserve. Choke on a big fishbone and die you hater. Bigots like you don’t deserve to be around living people. You hide behind your false gods and spew hatred. I hope your business is done!!! And choke soon!”
- “Stop using Jesus as an excuse for being a bigoted, narrow minded jerk.”
- “Did it perhaps occur to you that YOU destroyed your daughter and grandson’s lives by not accepting your daughter for who she is?”
- “Appears the letter was given after the tab was paid, so same sex couples can pay him, they just get more than they pay for, it would seem…”
Ariel McPhail respectfully acknowledged that McGovern has a right to his opinion, but she expressed a concern:
“If we’re experiencing it, then other people are too and that’s not fair.” Her spouse was a tad more blunt: “We ask that any who agrees (sic), not go.”
Equality NC will be stopping in New Bern on its upcoming Town Hall tour and has pledged to publish a list of New Bern businesses who “value Equality for all North Carolinians, including their LGBT patrons and employees.”
We have to give Cap’n Ed credit. The man obviously knows his Bible and has embraced the Old Testament Book of Leviticus. Or…not? It appears that McGovern, like many Christians, is either not knowledgeable about the book of Leviticus, or has decided to ignore it. It is especially ironic that Leviticus 11:9-12 forbids the eating of most of the items served on the menu at The Stingray Café.
One comment on poor Mr. McGovern’s guestbook said it best:
“This place was full of sin. First of all, I was offended that they were open on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10). Secondly, I was quite turned off that they offered shellfish on their menu (Deuteronomy 14:9-10) as well as pork (Leviticus 11:7-8). I had requested food with the fat trimmed off, but they scoffed at my request (Leviticus 3:17). The wait-staff was clearly wearing clothing woven of more than one kind of cloth.(Leviticus 19:19), they had their hair and beards trimmed (Leviticus 19:27) and one even displayed a tattoo.(Leviticus 19:28). All in all, this was a very blasphemous experience, I will not be returning.”
From The Stingray Café website:
We constantly strive to maintain an enjoyable experience of providing quality service and great food in a true southern style fashion. We look forward to having you join us for a southern seafood experience you will never forget!
Here’s the video:
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.