Backlash, threats for Grandville businessman saying he refuses to serve gays

Posted: 7:24 PM, Apr 16, 2015
Updated: 2015-04-16 19:24:49-04

GRANDVILLE, Mich. -- Business owner Brian Klawiter said he didn’t expect to get a big response from a statement he posted on Facebook.

He owns Dieseltec, an auto repair shop in Grandville. Tuesday, he posted a statement on a number of issues. In part, he said he refused to do business with gays and lesbians.

“There’s a set of behavior rules in my place of business. I operate my life on Christian values, and for me to not take that into my business I think would be hypocritical,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.

He declined to go on camera Thursday and cited numerous threats. He said he’s received them over the phone, through email, and Facebook. In the post, he also drew fire for saying anyone who wants to argue about homosexuality he'll "put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works."

Thursday, Klawiter said it wasn't a threat to endanger anyone. He said it was a comparison to male and female anatomy and how they need each other to reproduce.

Lesly Delaat, who's openly gay, protested alongside her friend Mallory Oberholtzer, who's straight.

"Everyone works hard for their money, and they should able to spend it the way they please," Delaat said.

Klawiter also emphasized that homosexuality was only one topic he discussed in his post.

Wednesday, he said, “I did speak about guns. They’re welcome in my shop. So much so that I’ve offered discounts for those that want to carry their weapon into my shop. I spoke about racism and that I’m not a racist.”

Oberholtzer said she protested for tolerance.

"Everyone has the freedom to share their own opinion, and we just feel that a positive one can overshadow a negative one, in our opinion. We’re just trying to spread the love, not the hate,” she said.

Delaat said, "I don’t like the media attention he’s getting, but he’s going to get it regardless. So I would hate for this to be a contagious thing amongst businesses around here."

Other groups have called for boycotts and protests of Dieseltec. If you're wondering if Klawiter is after donations, he said any money donated to his cause should go to charity. He adds that he hasn’t had an empty business in four years and stands by his views.