Main | Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Anti-Gay Cracker Barrel Founder Dies

The founder of the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain has died. The New York Times launches into his legacy in the very first sentence of their obit.
Danny Evins, who created Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a restaurant heavy on grits and nostalgia, expanded it into a $2 billion chain and then fought a losing battle to discriminate against gay employees, died on Saturday in Lebanon, Tenn. He was 76. The cause was bladder cancer, his former wife Donna S. Evins said. [snip] A January 1991 directive [ordered] all the company’s restaurants to fire employees “whose sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values.” Mr. Evins’s explanation for the edict was that gay people made customers in rural areas uncomfortable. As many as 16 openly or suspected gay employees were promptly fired. Protests erupted at restaurants in dozens of cities and towns; boycotts were organized; and shareholders complained.
Evins was eventually forced to apologize and the company's board of directors later issued a unanimous statement of non-discrimination after pressure from stockholders. However many LGBT people and their allies continue to avoid Cracker Barrel.

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