Anti-gay shop owner's forum draws protests

Protesters turn our for Dieseltec forum in Jenison

JENISON, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Grandville business owner who says he would not serve openly gay customers drew more controversy Thursday evening, this time in Jenison at the school district's fine arts center.

Dieseltec owner Brian Klawiter organized a town hall meeting which he said wasn't just about homosexuality and his views on gay marriage, but about god, morality, and his view of the state of the union.

The event drew demonstrations from several groups in the area, including local churches. Demonstrators said they weren't so much protesting the town hall meeting but presenting additional viewpoints. There were at least as many demonstrators outside and inside the fine arts center as there were people who came to support and endorse Klawiter's conservative views.

There were frequent outbursts from the audience that interrupted the program; after order was restored, the program of conservative speakers continued. Klawiter scheduled the event to address critics and supporters of his decision not to accept customers at his Grandville diesel repair shop who are openly gay.

"This is my business, I own it, I'm going to run it my way," Klawiter told the audience.

People there on both sides said they didn't want conflict or confrontation.

"I think, overall, everybody here just wants to be good neighbors," said demonstrator Juliea Page.

"I believe we ought to be nice to all," said forum attendee Jay Thoman.

"There are many students in the Jenison area that are gay there are a lot that are straight and these kids get along perfectly," a protestor told WZZM 13. "I hate to see the adults going at each other with our children all caught in the middle."

No one was arrested at the town hall meeting, although Ottawa County Sheriff's deputies say they will submit a report on a minor alleged assault to determine if any charges should be filed.


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