Belter Thumps, Gays Scream Discrimination, Threaten Children
This journalist was not always
writing for a living...I should have earned a law degree, but instead
opted for a landscaping career first (journalism came second.) On
the triple digit lawyer's salary I'd be wealthy enough to pass-off
mundane house chores and gardening to the slaves I'd order about.
I'd also be earning enough to build a $650,000 custom home in Houston,
TX, which is exactly what two guys in the Heights were planning
in time for Christmas 2006. They needed a landscaper. Nah, it is
Houston -- plant moss and call it day.
I was only a landscape designer for a combined dozen or so years in
California, Texas, New York, and France and the joys of that profession
bring back fond memories. Former colleagues forward me industry news
regularly, but one message caught my eye: The Association
of Professional Landscape Designers released an unprecedented statement
about discrimination dated 20 October 2006. It was buried in old news,
because it was now 12 November.
"It is important to the Board of Directors of the Association of
Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) that the public understand that
APLD does not support discriminating against clients based on sexual
orientation. It is unfortunate that the actions of a former member were
taken to represent the entire membership..."
The statement went on to read, "It has come to our attention that a
former member has declined a professional engagement on the grounds of
the prospective client’s sexual orientation. This conduct does not
conform to the policy and practice of APLD. Furthermore, APLD will take
steps to see that the former member ceases any representation that he
or she continues to be a member of APLD."
Hmmm, thought I, what in the world is this about? Why does APLD care
about a former member? Simple Google News search told the full story.
The headline, which originated out of Houston on 19
October, made its way to newspapers in Hungary, India, China,
Australia, and Russia -- perhaps Saturn too, but I'm not connected with
that planet's wire services.
Garden Guy Inc.
Landscape designer Todd Farber, 37, a horticulturist from Texas
A&M, and his wife Sabrina, 34, own the Garden Guy Inc., a full
service landscaping company, and the pair say they have been making
Houston beautiful since 1991. (Presumably as much as one can -- after
all it is Horrible Houston. The Farbers deserve an award just for
trying to make pansies grow way down there.)
Nonetheless the Farbers, who are the parents of three boys and a girl,
declined a potential client opportunity at the custom-built mansion of
Gary Lackey and Michael Lord in Houston Heights. Now, here is
where it gets sticky: Lackey and Lord were assumed to be a gay couple
by Sabrina and she informed them through e-mail, after the initial
appointment had been set, that the Garden Guy does not service gay
Okay, the stage is set so let us find the leadership skills on a hot
topic on God's planet.
According to Farber's online spiel, the company understands how
important reputation is for delivering landscaping objectives in a
timely manner and on budget.
"Because Garden Guy is a small, family-owned company we hope to earn
your business for life. Treating you with respect and honesty are the
cornerstones of our reputation."
So far, so good -- as the tree surgeon said to the chainsaw.
In addition to Farber's services he wrote on the landscaping
website: "The God ordained institution of marriage is under
attack in courts across the nation, and your help is needed." The
Garden Guy website encourages readers to take action on
Yes, a bit of whiplash. Marriage is under attack? No woman has asked me
to marry that I'm aware (maybe I'd better check the spam e-mail folder
more often.) What marriage has to do with tree surgery,
patio plants, flagstone walkways, arbors, and organic pest or lawn
treatments, escapes me -- perhaps I'd stumbled upon Ted Haggard's
repentance blog site.
This non-transaction between the Farbers' and the Houston men did take
place in the Bible Belt where such Christianity is the norm. You a
homo? Well, if you live in the southern United States get over it. No
Sheplers shirt? No cowboy boots? No Skoal? Aw'right then No Service.
And definitely no gays wanted. Move to Wyoming.
What the APLD sent across in e-mail made a little more sense...there
are no polls to prove this, but the landscaping industry isn't much
different than the film industry: Gays spring up like tulips and when
they pair-off as couples they are richer than a four letter word.
(Everyone wants their business.) They also design landscapes,
they run lawn-mowing crews, they cut flowers, run nurseries, and they
are lawyers. And they are members of APLD in all 50 states. Surely they
were ticked-off at the Farbers, former members though they were, and
the APLD attempted to show leadership.
But the Farbers are right. Whether or not they are sane --to turn down
a potential $60,000 landscape job-- is another issue entirely.
Garden Guy is not operating a public service -- they can decline
business from gays, Jews (although Todd is a Jew turned Christian,)
blacks, mixed races, armless, hairless, or childless couples -- there
are no rules. And even if there are rules those can be broken (that is
why lawyers are so successful.)
As a mother though, Sabrina did not think ahead as a leader and a
parent. The boys of Sabrina and Todd will be able to read what
transpired from their mother online -- forever.
Her e-mail message to Lackey and Lord could have been:
1) handled with a second phone call: "Hi ya'll...um, ya'll...um... I
don't think we are y'all, a good match, ya'll hear?" or
2) simply lie like all good leaders and Christians do in order to say
they were too busy for a new client.
So, should at some time little Todd one, two, or three say to maw and paw in 10 or 15 years, "I'd like
you to meet my boyfriend Billy Bob," the Farber parents might have a
different challenge on their hands than noodling over headlines for
having refused gay clients back in year 2006.
Some men don't know when to shut up
Lackey and Lord are the ones who brought this story to the press though
and made it into a global issue. They should have known better.
It has been reported that Lackey forwarded Sabrina's e-mail to 200
friends (apparently none of that lot could plant moss either) and the
e-mail made its way to message chat rooms, etc... etc... you've heard
this all before with every whiny complaint in the United States.
The Garden Guy's chat room, out of order at press time, was
bombarded with hate messages and threats against the Farber's boys in
the form of sodomy. Yup, that will win those gays some new friends, but
those gays will first have to answer to the nation's attorney general
Alberto Gonzales for their threats against 'innocent' Christian
children in Houston.
Lackey and Lord will never live down their campaign online whether they
keep the house, live with the swamp look, buy a puppy, or split
as a couple. Their actions are now recorded for as long as the Internet
Rather than simply phoning-up another landscaping company to plant
trees and shrubs (activity two grown men should be doing for
themselves) they decided to run off in a huff screaming discrimination
as if indeed it was. Lackey and Lord urged their friends and
acquaintances to spread the "nasty word" about the Garden Guy. Those
leadership skills bordered slander.
Tough cheese guys. Move on.
Garden Guy may love God and some people...but so did fallen
Haggard. Lackey and Lord have chosen a different route in a
politicized, over-sensitive way, gaining attention from a place they
needed it least -- bogged-down Houston.
Business is booming for Garden Guy by the way. The media attention just
boosted their business billing by $40,000.
Any white, legal citizen (in the United States) who is trying to make
ends meet as a small landscape services company in 2006 knows that
extra cash must be proof God exists...although I've long thought he
abandoned Texas. Landscape dollars now mostly go to illegal
Mexican immigrants in the south and southwestern United States.
Meanwhile...the two grown men still do not have a garden plan. What a
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