- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Canadian jeweler displayed posters in his store advocating traditional marriage, which prompted one same-sex couple to ask for a refund of their custom-made engagement rings.

Nicole White and Pam Renouf were looking for engagement rings a few months ago and eventually landed at Today’s Jewellers in Mount Pearl where the couple said they were given excellent service and great price for their rings.

“They were great to work with. They seemed to have no issues. They knew the two of us were a same-sex couple,” Ms. White told Canada’s CBC news. “I referred some of my friends to them, just because I did get good customer service and they had good prices.”

A friend of the couple went in to the store to purchase a ring for his girlfriend and saw a poster that read “The sanctity of marriage is under attack. Let’s keep marriage between a man and a woman,” CBC reported May 16.

The friend took a photo of the poster and sent it to Ms. White, who said she had no idea about the poster until that point.

“It was really upsetting. Really sad, because we already had money down on [the rings], and they’re displaying how much they are against gays, and how they think marriage should be between a man and a woman,” Ms. White said, CBC reported.

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The couple went to the store the next day to ask about the sign and demanded a refund.

“They just said that that’s their beliefs, and they think they can put up whatever they want. I just said it was very disrespectful, it’s very unprofessional and I wanted a refund,” Ms. White said, CBC reported. “I have no issues with them believing in what they believe in. I think everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But I don’t think they should put their personal beliefs inside their business.”

Today’s Jewellers co-owner Esau Jardon said he has been posting signs in his stores throughout the years and he has never before had a problem with a customer.

“It seems to be a Canadian right to post what you believe,” Mr. Jardon told CBC.

Mr. Jardon said that he and his family immigrated to Canada because of its rights and freedoms and said he won’t apologize for his beliefs.

“I feel really bad that [Ms. White] feels that we would in any way try to hurt or discriminate against her, but we will not retract from what we believe. I cannot say, ‘Well because you feel bad, I will stop believing what I believe,’” he said, CBC reported.

“When I walk on Church Street in Toronto, where I am right now, and I see [LGBT rainbow flags], and I see a lot of signs and a lot of things on public property, I don’t have a problem with them. I accept it. I chose to come to Canada… and we accept the whole package… I don’t discriminate against that, nor do I come and tell them to take them down. For the same reason, I ask to have the same respect in return, especially when it’s in my own business,” Mr. Jardon said.

He told The Telegram that while he believes in a traditional family, he does not believe same-sex marriage should be illegal, and said the sign has been misunderstood.

“It doesn’t even mention homosexuals or a specific group within that. It could talk about, for example, the sanctity of the traditional family. There are other forms of heterosexuals that are practicing that (my family doesn’t) believe in, that we think the traditional form is the best way. For example, if people are cohabitating,” Mr. Jardon said, the newspaper reported.

Mr. Jardon said he has received so many hate emails and bullying messages on social media that he has been forced to shut down the business’ Facebook page.

The social media backlash prompted Mr. Jardon to give Ms. White and Ms. Renouf a refund for their rings, which were already finished and waiting to be picked up.

We understand now that these attacks have nothing to do with Nicole or Pam they have been really nice and just want their money back to go buy elsewhere so we are giving them their money back,” Mr. Jardon told the newspaper.  

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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