Following up on an item I mentioned in one of last weekend's news roundups, a Brooklyn shopkeeper who has offered a 10 percent discount to lesbian moms at her maternity store is now receiving threatening phone calls from those who don't approve of the markdown. Karen Paperno, who says she is living in fear because of the threats, says most of the hateful calls are coming from outside of New York state. Paperno herself is heterosexual.
The sign didn’t cause much trouble — aside from an occasional pout from a gay father — until last week, when Brokelyn.com reported on the bargain. The post prompted impassioned critics to complain about everything from sexism to the sanctity of marriage.
“This is blatantly discriminatory,” wrote Richard Sol, one commenter on the blog. “I wish godspeed to whomever sues these sexists.” It got worse when several scary men — some of whom accused Paperno of trying to get rich in the name of sin — began to phone Boing Boing. One called her, “a fat bull dyke who needs to get f—ed.”
Now, she says she’s scared to be alone at the shop at night. Offensive or not, Paperno has nothing to worry about — at least legally. “If she wants to offer a discount to a group she thinks is underprivileged, she’s entitled to,” said discrimination lawyer Murray Schwartz, adding that customers don’t have the same rights as employees. “Retailers can basically do whatever they want.” Paperno says she’ll do just that: She has no plans to take the sign down.
Some blog commenters' have labeled Paperno "heterophobic" and have gone as far as to call her discount worthy of a hate crime.