Landscape Bible Belter Thumps, Gays Scream Discrimination, Threaten Children : Published November 2006 All Rights Reserved


Landscape Bible 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 clientele.

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 nogaymarriage.com.

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 is running.

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 shame.


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