The Pentecostal pastor who complained that two women were “making people uncomfortable” at a Tim Hortons in southwestern Ontario is now on the defensive, denying much of the story told by the couple.
But queer advocates in Blenheim, Ontario, where the incident happened, call his version of the story “blatantly false” and an attempt to derail a planned peaceful protest Oct 27.
“They were basically having sex . . . I don’t want my kids to see pornographic images that will burn an impression into them,” says Eric Revie, assistant pastor at Glad Tidings Community Church in Blenheim. “Also, there’s a rumour we held a prayer vigil. That is a lie and a fabrication. That never happened.”
Revie tells a very different story than Riley Murphy, 25, and her girlfriend, Patricia Pattenden, 23. The two women say they were told to leave the coffee shop by the manager after Revie complained “about a peck on the cheek” in late September.
The manager told them the coffee shop is “family-friendly” and threatened to call police. The couple says they now plan to file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
Revie says Murphy and Pattenden were “being disgusting . . . straddling one another, tongues locked, with hands down each others’ clothes in the crotch area and chest area, grabbing genitals.” He says he thought Murphy and Pattenden were straight. “I don’t want my kids to see that,” he adds.
Tracy Lamourie, the social justice activist who created the Occupy Tim Hortons Facebook group, says Revie’s version sounds like exaggerated nonsense.
“The couple were with their entire family at the time,” she says. “It’s ridiculous to think they were making out and touching one another like that in front of their parents.”
Revie says gay and lesbian activists from all across Ontario are now harassing and threatening him. In the National Post on Oct 25, Revie claims to have the support of members of the “local gay and lesbian community,” but Lamourie says that is also blatantly false.
When questioned, Revie admits only one local gay person has expressed support, “plus a couple emails.”
“Where are my rights?” he asks. “How come the gay community can speak up, do whatever they want, curse and swear at people? Should I just sit down and shut up if I see things that offend me? Why does only the gay community have rights?”
In a news release on Oct 24, Chatham-Kent Pride says the actions of management at Tim Hortons in Blenheim demonstrated discrimination. “The language and actions used to justify the dismissal, or removal, of Riley and partner Patricia are unethical, irresponsible and unconscionable.”
Queer advocates in Blenheim say the pastor is simply “in full damage control.” Lamourie says Revie and his church have put on a lot of pressure this week in Blenheim to “make the whole thing just go away.”
“Everyone is worried about the pastor, not these two people who had their rights trampled on,” Lamourie says. “He wants us to cancel the protest because it makes him look bad,” she says. “The only way I will cancel the protest is if [Murphy and Pattenden] want to cancel it, and they don’t.”
A peaceful “kiss-in” protest is planned Thursday, Oct 27 at 4pm outside the Tim Hortons in Blenheim.
In a statement, Alexandra Cygal, manager of public affairs at Tim Hortons head office, said the couple “went beyond public displays of affection” and were “making other guests feel uncomfortable.”