A t-shirt for Connecticut rock band Hostage Calm in support of same-sex marriage is at the center of a controversial firing of a long-time employee of Christian Nashville concert venue Rocketown.
According to The Tennessean, the fired former Rocketown employee, Wes Breedwell, took to social networks about the incident, igniting controversy and generating an impassioned blog post from Hostage Calm lead singer Chris “Cmar” Martin regarding the situation.
“I have a friend in the scene down there, and he let me know what had happened with Wes,” explained Martin during a phone interview with Radio.com. “The first thing I did was contact him to see what we as a band could do to help. I think he’s building a strong discrimination case.
“It’s just really disappointing to me that what seemed like a cool venue for kids to see bands would have such a problem with an employee wearing our shirt,” he continued, referencing the Hostage Calm shirt that features two women holding hands on the front and the words “I Support Same Sex Marriage” in bold letters across the back.
“They went so far as to write down on a piece of paper that wearing the shirt showed a lack of judgment,” Martin added, citing Breedwell’s Letter of Termination (see below). “We’ll never play there again, and I’ve spoken to lots of other bands that also plan on boycotting Rocketown.”
In defense of Rocketown, which is an all-ages “non-profit youth outreach facility” that also boasts a skate park and coffee bar, the venue’s founder, GRAMMY-winning Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith, released the following statement through his publicist:
“Rocketown does not comment on personnel issues, but, generally speaking, an employee would not be fired for expressing opinions on marriage. At Rocketown we are welcoming and accepting of all youth. We reach out to all kids, are inclusive and very much care about acceptance of youth from different ethnicities, sexual orientations, financial backgrounds and religions,” the statement claimed. “Our mission is to provide a safe and drug-free environment where kids are welcomed, accepted and loved.”
“Wes wasn’t fired for wearing our shirt,” Martin stressed. “He was fired for his beliefs.”
“When we first made the shirt, we wanted it to spark discussion, give people the chance to express themselves,” the Hostage Calm singer said. “It’s important that we stand up for what we believe in and think is right. It’s just so disappointing that someone would have his job taken away for believing in social equality. It’s unacceptable.”
-Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local