Morris urges people to not paint it with 'intolerant brush'

The Town of Morris, reeling from national headlines and social media comments about homophobia, is urging people against painting all residents with the same "intolerant brush."
Morris Mayor Gavin van der Linde's office has released a statement trying to distance the town from homophobic comments made by a "small minority" of people. (CBC)
Dave Claringbould and his partner opened Pots N Hands four months ago. The plan to close on April 13. (CBC)

The Town of Morris, reeling from national headlines and negative social media comments about homophobia, is urging people against painting all residents as intolerant.

The town south of Winnipeg was thrust into the news this week when the openly gay owners of a restaurant said they were closing up and leaving, tired of being targeted by homophobic remarks.

 Dave Claringbould, a chef and one of the owners of Pots N Hands, opened the restaurant just four months ago. They have set April 13 as their final day.

Press release from Town of Morris

Regrettably, the Town of Morris (population: 1800) will be losing a small business in a few short days. This restaurant only recently opened (December 2012), and by most accounts received very good reviews.

Pots N Hands is run by two openly homosexual men, one of whom is a certified chef, and until very recently, was just one of many small businesses within our boundaries, and one that we as representatives of the town, believed was doing as well as could be expected of any new restaurant. Sadly, this is not the case, and the prevailing sentiment seems to be that it is due to the fact the owners have not been accepted by all because of their personal lives.

In light of becoming aware there were problems and that they would be closing, we as a Council along with our CAO, met for lunch at Pots N Hands to show support for this restaurant in our town. In doing so, we made a public statement as a group that the people who represent Morris support our local businesses regardless of race, belief, and/or sexual orientation (which really should go without saying. It is very disappointing that this has become an issue in our town). This lunch occurred a week ago, and was certainly not the first time any of us had eaten there.

In discussions with the owners, it was made clear to us that while there were a number of rude comments made to them and to their staff, as well as intolerant attitudes displayed toward this restaurant because of the lifestyle of its proprietors throughout the term of this business, there was no intention to make this into what it has become – a national news story.

Why? Because the owners understood that although these comments and attitudes were hurtful and unnecessary, they were aware that this small minority didn’t reflect the positions and views of the Town of Morris as a whole.

People form opinions, towns do not. Towns are made up of diverse groups of people, and sometimes there are a few who do not understand how differences are what makes a particular town unique.

The Town of Morris is saddened to be losing a business run by two very polite individuals, and especially under these circumstances. We appreciate the concern that has been voiced, but please remember that painting an entire town with the same intolerant brush is akin to the ignorance that made this front page news to begin with.

With sincerest thanks,

The Town of Morris