Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Wolf Laurel Slopes Makes Discrimination Part of the Business Plan

Jeremy Brett sent me an email from Laurel Scherer that's making the rounds. I've combined it here with a message from their site, All Terrain Images. The website bits are bracketed, and the email bits aren't.

"Virginia and I recently got legally married in Provincetown, Mass. Upon our return to Asheville, we decided to submit our wedding announcement to the Asheville Citizen-Times. Much to our delight, the newspaper readily accepted our announcement and ran it in the Nov. 6th issue. To our knowledge, this was the first same-sex wedding announcement with photo that was run in the AC-T."
"...the owner(s) of Wolf Laurel Slopes, where we had been doing ski and snowboard photography for the past two seasons, did not want us there any longer once they heard about the publication of our announcement. While they initially gave us some reasons that did not hold water, they eventually confirmed that they did not want us there because we are a lesbian couple."

["Just before opening day, the owners of Wolf Laurel Slopes, Orville English and Rick Bussey, informed us that we were not welcome back, despite the excellent service we have provided for the past two years. The owners of Wolf Laurel Slopes have both admitted that one of the reasons they will not have us back is because All Terrain Images, Inc., is owned and operated by a lesbian couple whose wedding announcement was placed in the local Asheville newspaper. We believe this is the only reason for termination of our agreement. Prior to the announcement in the Asheville Citizen-Times, there was never any question that we would return for another season. While we know that many people do not understand or accept same-sex relationships, we believe that it is an injustice to deprive hard-working, competent, professional individuals of their right to work and earn an honest income solely because of their sexual orientation. We never brought our personal relationship into our professional work environment, and it was never an issue before this announcement. In fact, the ownership praised our work, and used (and continue to use) our photos for their own marketing. Furthermore, Mr. English made it clear to us at the end of last season that he was looking forward to our return. We regret that this is not the case, and we thank you for your patronage over the past two ski seasons."]

"And finally, if you disagree with the actions of the Wolf Laurel owners, please let them know by sending a written letter and/or email. If you have the time and inclination, we believe that personalized letters make more of a difference than form letters."
"Wolf Laurel Slopes
P.O. Box 969
Mars Hill, NC 28754

For the following address, include Rick Bussey's name on the envelope:

Mr. Rick Bussey
c/o Scenic Wolf Ridge Resort
104 North Main Street
Weaverville, NC 28787

If you prefer to use email, please send to: marketing@skiwolflaurel.com ."

Laurel includes a link to a form letter.


Huw Raphael said...

Seems like a person should be able to take his business to whomever he wishes - even for objectionable reasons. That's the whole "buy blue" idea, isn't it?

Uptown Ruler said...

so your saying if your boss finds out that you are orthodox and decides to fire you (let you go) because of that fact, you are ok with it?

Screwy Hoolie said...


I think you missed the whole "Buy Blue" idea.

Discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation is wrong. The whole Buy Blue idea is to support businesses who subscribe to basic human rights and compassionate politics.

If you are prejudiced against homosexuals, this is a place you could say that...

1000 black lines said...

Thanks for sharing the email Screwy. But, um, there's more to this story than posting excerpts from an email. In order to make an informed decision requires more research.

For example, "[W]e had been doing ski and snowboard photography for the past two seasons..."

Does that statement mean All Terrain Images, Inc is owned by Wolf Laurel Slopes or is All Terrain Images an individual company providing services to Wolf Laurel? If this is a business dispute, then legally there is nothing one can do but send mass emails and op ed letters. If it is the former--employment discrimination--than the ACLU can be contacted for assistance.

Again, more details to this story are needed to make an educated and informed decision.

Thanks again for sharing this email Screwy.

Huw Raphael said...

Forgive me if I missed something here... but I read the story to indicate the ladies were not employees of the slopes but rather that the couple were contractors. I read not that they were fired but that the contract was not renewed. This is not a "deprived of a right to work" issue. (Are there no other slopes?) It's a "I don't want to spend my money to support your choices" issue.

If that is not the case then being fired for being in a same sex marriage would raise some eyebrows including my own - and forgive my misreading of the report - although is such a protected category in this state? Not sure.

But a business has the right to take its contract money to whom it wishes just as you have the right to not shop there. If blues want to only shop from blues, why not allow the same options to reds?

Uptown Ruler said...

why not allow the same options to reds?

or bigots, or racists, or homophobes, or elitists, or sexists, nationalists...

i still say you'd be mighty upset if your boss found out something about you, and let you go because, despite your work being excellent, he didn't agree with you, let's say theologically.

1000 black lines said...

Hello! Will someone answer the question?

Is this All Terrain Images, Inc/Wolf Laurel Slopes situation an employment dispute or business dispute?

1000 black lines said...

Nevermind. I just called Wolf Laurel Slopes and asked about the employment of Laurel Scherer. They informed me that All Terrain Images is a private company.

This is a business contract dispute not an employment dispute. Discrimination is a null point.

Businesses can legally choose who they want to partner with and who to contract for services. This is not a same-sex marriage discrimination case.

Screwy Hoolie said...


My comprehensive reply just got eaten by Blogger.

To sum it up: No, it's not a legal case. Yes, it is a moral case.

Jim Jenkins said...

This is a business contract dispute not an employment dispute.

Best I can tell from the story in today's AC-T, that is legally correct.

Discrimination is a null point.

Seems to me that discrimination is the point. The ski lodge has the right under the law to discontinue their oral contract with the photographers, but the point being made in the post is that the decision to end the contract was based on the fact that the women chose to publicize their union and in doing so, exposed their orientation.

We have a legal issue that under current law seems pretty clear in this case, just as it would have been if a company chose to end its contract after finding out that the contractor was black prior to the enactment of civil rights laws. There is also a moral issue involved which is what's being addressed in the post and e-mail which I don't think can be so easily dismissed.

“In further discussions with English and Bussey,” the press release states, “both owners confirmed Scherer’s suspicions that she and her partner’s wedding announcement was a primary reason for termination of the business agreement.

“English indicated that he did not believe in same-sex relationships and therefore did not want the couple working in his lodge. Bussey stated that he disagreed with the couple’s lifestyle, and believed the public announcement could hurt Wolf Laurel’s business.”

1000 black lines said...

Thanks Jim. Maybe "discrimination is a null point" was a bit misguided. You're correct, discrimination is the point.

However, discrimination often has a negative political connotation. Making fine distinctions; discernment based on individual merit, partiality or prejudice is not entirely a bad thing.

For example, I don't shop at Wal-mart, Kmart or Starbucks and if I found out that Greenlife was getting their fresh produce from Wal-mart I'd stop shopping there as well (to my knowledge Greenlife doesn't--just an example). I chose where to spend (or invest) my money.

That is why I desired to know the facts in order to make an informed decision. If this was a case of employee discrimination, then the ACLU should be contacted. Since it is not, the decision of whether or not to boycott Wolf Laurel Slopes needs to be made. That's an individuals responsibility--to be guided by their moral compass within the framework of the law.

syntax said...

funny thing was - i was going to suggest a blogasheville snowday sometime during a coming weekend, and one of the places would have been wolf laurel's tubing run.

sugar mountain, anyone?

(blogger's been eating my posts and comments today as well...)

Jim Jenkins said...

At least blogger seems to be an equal opportunity offender.

Screwy Hoolie said...

The Asheville Citizen-Times is running a forum on this topic. Interesting commentary there, too.


This story was clicked on almost 3,000 times today on the citizen-times website.

Huw Raphael said...

Business issue, thanks Mulder.

This is not the same as being let go (fired) for being gay or being Orthodox. I hope we can move beyond that.

Ryvr said...

Not the same thing as being fired for being gay or Orthodox??? Exercising the same right as opposite-sex couples, this couple chose marriage to formalize and protect their relationship likely for the same reasons many heterosexuals do. However, because they are gay and their partner is of the same gender, they have been rejected from a business deal. This is morally reprehensible discrimination, and while NC has no anti-discrim law for LGBT taxpayers, I do believe some counties including Buncombe do have laws against this sort of bigotry. It is wrong, and fair-minded people will speak out against it.