(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) — A Knoxville, Tenn., restaurant owner has drawn cheers and jeers for refusing to serve a state senator whose beliefs she viewed as homophobic.
Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield told ABC News he went out to brunch at The Bistro at Bijou restaurant on Sunday with some friends after doing a radio show, but the owner of the restaurant quickly approached him, refusing service.
“We were just standing there waiting for a table, and this woman came up to me saying, ‘I’m not serving you, I’m not serving you, you hate gay people,’” Campfield said. “‘I said ma’am I’m not a homophobe,’ and I offered to send her links from the CDC website to back up what I said about homosexuality being a dangerous lifestyle, and being a risky behavior.”
Martha Boggs, the owner of the Bistro at Bijou, located on Gay Street, said that she saw Campfield walk in and thought immediately that he was not welcome in her restaurant because of his comments on homosexuality.
“It was one of those spur-of-the-moment things. I didn’t think about what I was doing, but all I did was look at his smug face, and told myself I do not want to serve him. His comments have gone from stupid to dangerous and I think someone needs to stand up to him,” Boggs said.
At the heart of the spat between Boggs and Campfield were the senator’s recent comments that heterosexual sex was safer than homosexual sex, and recently proposed legislation that K-8 schools should only teach about heterosexual sex to students. Boggs said his comments were inappropriate, while Campfield, who is straight, said Monday that his opinion is backed up by research from the Center for Disease Control.
“I was talking last week on a radio show and I said the homosexual lifestyle is a dangerous lifestyle. There are heterosexuals in Africa that do have it (AIDS), but the odds of a person getting AIDS in America is much less unless you’re having sex with a high-risk group,” Campfield said.
Campfield referred to CDC statistics, which, according to data from 2008, show that 54 percent of HIV cases diagnosed that year were from same-sex contact among males, while 32 percent was contracted from heterosexual sexual contact. Neither the CDC nor Campfield addressed female homosexual behavior.
On the radio show, however, Campfield said that it was “virtually impossible” to contract HIV/AIDS through heterosexual sex.
“My understanding is that it is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex…very rarely [transmitted],” he said.
Boggs said she was happy to stand up to him.
“The most dangerous statements he made was that it’s virtually impossible for people to get AIDS through heterosexual sex, and I told him to leave because I was defending the rights of the community and pointing out to an elected official how inappropriate his opinion was. I think Mr. Campfield is a bully so I just stood up to a bully.”
Campfield said he didn’t take the incident too seriously and wouldn’t file any discrimination complaint, but thought it illustrated a problem with the other political party.
“I sort of laugh about that kind of stuff, and view it as another example of the left saying they’re open to people with divergent points of view until someone has a different point of view,” he said.
Following the confrontation, Boggs took Facebook, writing, “I hope Stacy (sic) Campfield now knows what it feels like to be discriminated against.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Eric Bradner, Jeff Zeleny and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN
Sara Ashley O'Brien, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com