A small business owner from Canberra has taken a stand on marriage equality after one of her contractors posted publicly on social media in support of the ‘Vote No’ campaign.
Madlin Sims, who owns a children’s entertainment company, posted a message explaining her decision to fire the contractor on Facebook, saying in part:
“Voting no is homophobic. Advertising your homophobia is hate speech. As a business owner I can’t have somebody who publicly represents my business posting hate speech online.”
The post has since picked up traction online, drawing both praise and criticism.
Sims owns a children’s entertainment company, and had recently brought on a new contractor – a friend of her brother’s, who works for the company as well.
Although the new worker had been doing well for the month or so she worked for Sims’ business, Sims was disturbed to hear about an argument her brother and the contractor had got into.
Sims told PEDESTRIAN.TV:
She had one of those temporary Facebook frames for your profile photo, saying, “It’s okay to vote ‘No’.”
My brother reached out to her and said, ‘Hey, I don’t think that’s okay’ – because we have lots of gay friends we have friends who have gay parents. I think if you have that opinion [on same sex marriage] then whatever, but it’s really hurtful to put that online.
She came back at him attacking him and saying, ‘It’s wrong, what, are you gay? You’re attacking me for my religious beliefs.’
Sims says her brother dropped the matter and continued to work with the contractor, but when Sims heard about the argument and the worker’s public support for the ‘No’ campaign she couldn’t let it go.
I had a look at her page and I could see it there, and I was a bit disappointed because [along with] this profile picture she’s got photos of her at work events, representing the business, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s not cool.’
After finding herself unable to reconcile the contractor’s views with the values of the business, Sims chose to let the contractor go. You can read the post about her decision in full here:
Today I fired a staff member who made it public knowledge that they feel "it's okay to vote no". Advertising your…
Speaking to P.TV, Sims explained further:
We have gay customers, we do parties for children of gay parents, we might be doing parties for gay kids who don’t know they’re gay yet. I wasn’t comfortable with someone working for us who was so out and proud about having homophobic views.
Sims said that she felt, as a diverse business that cares for and entertains children, that her company had an obligation to represent equality, and she didn’t want to have someone on her team who was so staunchly against it.
Apparently the contractor got in touch with Sims’ brother to threaten legal action, but as Sims says, being let go from a work agreement because your views and the values of the company do not line up is not the same as being discriminated against for being LGBTQIA.
Her argument remains focused on protecting vulnerable youth from potentially damaging material online:
There’s the freedom of speech argument, but in my eyes there’s also consequences of sharing those opinions online. I’m hoping she has a think about the effects of vocalising those views and the fact that they’re so harmful to people in the gay community as well.
You’ve got young gay people killing themselves over the fact that there’s so much inequality, horrible statistics about mental health problems – if [the postal vote] goes ahead and we are allowed marriage equality in Australia, I don’t think there are ‘No’ voters who are going to be affected for their whole lives over this, and who are going to be killing themselves.
The ‘debate’ continues.Image: Facebook / Madlin Sims