The GEM Debate: Should A Store Be Allowed To Offer A Lesbian Mom Discount?

lesbian moms

So Team GEM came across an interesting story the other day and it is ripe for debate!

Karen Papeno runs a baby boutique in an upscale part of Brooklyn and has decided to offer a special discount to a certain segment of society that she believes could really use it. Lesbian moms. Since women are still underpaid in the world – and two women doubly so – Karen decided to right the balance by offering a discount to lesbian moms.

The story spread like wildfire last week and Karen’s been handsomely rewarded for her efforts, in the form of menacing phone calls and emails, even some death threats. Perhaps the most disconcerting were the ones suggesting she just need to have sex with a man to get over it. Something tells me that’s already happening, seein’ as she’s straight.

When I read the first couple of lines, my thought was, “Okay, interesting. Every special group needs a hook-up.” But then I got pissed reading about the threats from people with clearly too much time on their hands. So here’s my take: Uh, hello, people? Yeah, hi, GET A GRIP HERE! This is a woman who runs a small business. It’s HER business who she wants to sell to and why. She could sell to one-eyed, people who dress up like toy soldiers every Tuesday is she so desired, it’s her business! And since she’s not a government agency or contractor, she’s not bound by laws that she would probably run afoul of such a special discount.

But you know what makes this country great? Our right to choose. As a former journalist, I value people’s rights to say and do as they see fit, provided their rights don’t butt up against those of someone else. There are many groups whose rhetoric I think is inane, but I will defend their right to say it. The deal here is, if this lady’s special discount to lesbian moms pisses you off so much, fold up your wallet, walk out of her store and SHOP SOMEWHERE ELSE! It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

But on the other hand – should a shop owner be allowed to offer a discount to a certain segment of society? What if a store offered a discount to ‘blacks’ or ‘white’ only? Or banned men? At what point does a special offer or rules become discrimination…

What do you say? Do you think a store should be allowed to offer a lesbian mom discount? And where do you draw the line… start commenting everyone!

Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create GoodEnoughMother.com. When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.

15 Comments

  1. Remote Patrolled

    May 4, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I’m gonna disagree with you on this one Rene!

    I think the store owner’s policy comes with the best of intentions but I think it’s a dangerous precedent to set.

    If store owners are allowed to offer preferential deals to different social groups it could lead to all sorts of discrimination

    If this were a store offering a discount to white men instead I think it would be a whole different debate!

  2. Jennifer

    May 4, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Her store, her choice. Plain and simple. If the naysayers don’t agree for whatever reason, then they shouldn’t shop there.

    Stories like this where the ignorance seeps out like crap from a septic tank make my blood boil. I agree that they must have too much time on their hands and it’s really very sad. If I were the owner of the store, I wouldn’t miss these people if they didn’t shop there; the negative karma is too much.

  3. Andy

    May 4, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Jennifer:

    What would you say about a store that gave discounts to heterosexuals?

    I think what she’s doing is based on a good sentiment, but when we practice exclude we tread in dangerous waters.

  4. R.T.E.Dixon

    May 4, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I’m riding with Rene, due in large that I because of My wife who was a Master Sgt of USAF (Ret.) I get military discounts at stores while others don’t. Its preferential. Its an owners right to offer free donuts to cops and not to crossing guards its preferential. I believe if they offer discounts to certain segments because they want to attract business its a right. But let me say that there are certain magazines and newspapers I would’ve done it in to target market instead of showing my hand to those thin skinned sensitive people.

  5. Rebecca

    May 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

    The only issue I have is with the owner’s logic. If her intent is to right the financial imbalance caused by underpayment of women in the workplace, then shouldn’t she be offering discounts to single mothers as well? What if the single mother is a lesbian? What if she isn’t? What about single dads? A single dad would most likely have a more difficult time financially than any two-parent household.

    I agree that it’s her business to do with as she pleases. If consumers don’t like it, they are welcome to shop elsewhere. No one should be threatening her. I could say a lot more, but I’ll stop here!

  6. Alleyne

    May 4, 2011 at 10:19 am

    There are businesses all over the country that provide discounts only to members of the military or their dependents.

    Bars and restaurants continue to have ladies’ nights, where women don’t pay a cover charge, or their drinks are half price. Some also have mens’ nights, though those are less common.

    Children receive discounts on meals and particularly on admission prices to all manner of entertainment and recreational venues, from amusement parks to zoos.

    Senior citizens get discounts on everything imaginable, from public transportation to movie tickets,drug store purchases to floral arrangements. There are websites and national organizations and programs designed to do nothing but provide discounts and information on discounts to people over a certain age.

    Many businesses located near university campuses provide special discounts to students. A national Christian bookstore chain has a special discount program only for members of the clergy. Small business owners nationwide provide discounts on to members of their place of worship, of specific unions or fraternal organizations like Rotary or the VFW. My hairstylist offers a discount to all current and alumna members of her sorority.

    So the precedent of businesses choosing a select population (or several populations) and giving them a pricing break is already set, widespread and widely viewed as not just accepted but expected in certain cases (especially for seniors). The only thing unusual about this store owner’s policy is which population she’s chosen to provide a discount for. If that bothers a potential patron, they’re not forced to shop there. They’re not being discriminated against any more than a civilian is when they don’t get the military discount.

  7. Kathy

    May 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I’m sorry; if she is truly concerned about peoples’ ability to pay, why doesn’t she offer a sliding scale to all? What about single mom’s? How does one prove they are indeed a lesbian? I just don’t buy this at all. If she wants to cater to a population, that is fine, but let’s not say it is due to economics.

  8. m.e. Johnson

    May 4, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Allow? What’s to stop her? And some stores do offer discounts to ‘certain’ people, they just don’t advertise it. In second-hand stores if I bought several articles, most often I got one of them free. Cash for expensive articles will get you a discount almost anywhere ~ clothing, appliances, cars. They are happy to not have to bill you or worry about not getting paid.

    Discrimination happens in ‘unnoticeable ways, i.e., being ignored, “We don’t have your size” or “We’re out of that” instead of going to the stock room, etc. God only knows what people may do to your food before serving it to you (some have been busted for nasty nasty stuff).

    Whatever you do or don’t do, someone somewhere is going to hate you for it. It’s the American way, I guess.

  9. Jennifer

    May 4, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Hi Andy,

    I don’t have a problem with who she gives a discount to if they are black, white, orange, purple, heterosexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, policemen, kids, senior citizens, clergymen, hair stylists, single mothers, etc. You get what I’m trying to say, right? I am not saying my opinion should be universal. We’re all entitled to our own.

    I’m heterosexual and a divorced, (single) mother with three kids and have a BA in Psychology. I was laid off from my last job over a year ago so of course I would look for a discount to save money. I clip coupons every week and know how to pinch a penny because I have to.

    I’m sticking with my original stance: Her store, her choice.

  10. Margit

    May 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    She has the right to do what she wants with her store, just as we have the right to spend our money elsewhere. That’s the wonderful this about this country-we are free to choose where we spend our hard earned money.

  11. Irene

    May 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I agree with Jennifer…her store her choice….

    What makes me feel this way? She is the one paying the bills there….I am sure this discount is probably based in part to the clientel she has had in the past.

    I wish someone would come up with a discount for stressed mom’s….lol…My teenager told me today he is taking a 2 week vacation from his chores and has enough of his allowance saved…something tells me he has been facebooking with Cole maybe…((sorry off topic))

  12. Rachel vidoni

    May 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Sorry to be lame here, but no one has mentioned it…
    How do you prove you’re a lesbian? Throw down your “I’m Gay” card? Just curious….

  13. Rene Syler

    May 4, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    @remotepatrolled: If it sets a precedent that leads to discrimination well, that’s what laws and the legal system are for. The fact is she’s a private business and can sell to whomever she wants. The thing consumers don’t get is that they have the ultimate say and can vote with their dollars.

  14. Matt

    May 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    I really like this article because it points out the fallacy of reverse discrimination (discrimination is discrimination), and shows us the counter-productivity of anti-discrimination laws in a much less inflammatory way.

    Rene is right on point, a private business owner should be able to operate their business in any way they see fit, ultimately whether or not she makes or loses money should police her actions and decide if what she is doing is right or wrong, the government has no place making that decision for her (and the rest of us for that matter).

    In a free country, the debate shouldn’t be on if she should be allowed to do this, the debate should be on whether or not she should do this.

  15. Annie @ Mama Dweeb

    May 5, 2011 at 1:03 am

    She should NOT be getting the hate mail. I wonder if her intent was to get her store talked about though. I mean seriously, her store is so well known now vs what it was before this discount! I really feel badly that she got this hate though.

    I agree with other commenters. She had good intentions, but offering a discount based on a person’s sexual orientation is a slippery slope. Plus, it is a really dumb decision from a business perspective. I can walk in with my kid and my best friend and say “we’re gay. give me your discount.” She is going to lose money from people that have dumb hate and from people that lie.

    Good intentions, but not entirely thought through.

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