Grainger County hardware store owner refuses to serve gay customers

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WASHBURN, Tenn. (WVLT) -- An East Tennessee hardware store has a strong message on its front door: "No gays allowed."

Jeff Amyx, owner of Amyx Hardware and Roofing Supplies, put that message up on his store's door Monday.

He says he was fed up with all of the positive feedback following Friday's Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. He wants gay customers to know they are not welcome.

"I don't want them around me. Because their lifestyle is what I disagree with. People say 'you need to accept them, you need to accept them.' I don't have to," he says.

Amyx took down the original sign Tuesday morning and replaced it with one less harsh. The new sign reads "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who would violate our rights of freedom of speech & freedom of religion."

But he hasn't changed his feelings that gay customers should find somewhere else to spend their money.

"Would you let a child molester come in your home, around your kids? Of course not. So why would I let a homosexual hang around me? It's against my nature, it's against my way of life, it's against my religion," he says.

He's already getting calls from around the country. Some people are calling to support him, others to harass him. But Amyx, who's a Baptist minister, feels he has to stand up for his beliefs.

"Homosexuals stand boldly for what they believe. Why can't I stand boldly for what I believe? Why can't I stand boldly and say I believe the word of God over them?" he says.

Customers we talked to all agree with Amyx and his policy.

But around town, some people like Jennifer Pinnick, say they'll never go back to that store.

"To know that something like that is in this town, it's appalling. Because everybody is so nice, kind, religious, great beliefs," she says.

Amyx feels what he does with his store is his right. He'll still sell to gay customers as long as they "behave" and keep their opinions to themselves.

"Homosexuality is not a nationality, it's not a race of people, it's a group of people who practice a sinful lifestyle," he says.

He doesn't plan to take down the sign.