Op-Ed: How Montana Daily Gazette Fought Town Pump – And Won

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In June, I was returning to Richland County with a caravan of vehicles from my home county, and stopped for fuel and snacks at the Town Pump location in East Helena, heading home. It was the same Town Pump that ordered my daughter and I out of the store when she was a Senate Paige, for not wearing masks (despite the governor overturning masking orders). But all I wanted that day was a fresh drink and snack for the long, 8-hour trek home.

I noticed while checking out, that the clerk was a crossdresser (“transgender” people do not exist because no one in the history of the world has ever transitioned their gender). Ordinarily, I would say nothing, but the crossdresser had a blue-and-pink striped pin – the colors of the pro-life movement. I asked what his pin meant. He told me it stood for “transgender pride.”

Without raising my voice, in a conversational tone, I responded, “You’re not a woman. You’re a man. All types of pride are sinful, and you should trust in Jesus.” I then exited the store without being asked, with my business transacted.”

Affidavits from customers, acquired by my attorney, later substantiated that I did not raise my voice, prolong the transaction, or hold up business. However, overhearing the conversation was an LGBTQ advocate, a woman larger than myself, who took exception with my comments and began to scream profanities and vulgarities, and followed me out the store.

I responded relatively calmly for someone being accosted. I raised my voice only commensurate to hers, so I could be heard. I repeatedly asked why she hated science so much. That was a man. Why can I not say that?

Inside the store, the cross-dressing clerk seemed unnerved and unbothered. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that dress is speech. His pin was speech. His answer to my question was speech. He shared his thoughts, I shared mine. That seemed like a fair enough exchange.

Meanwhile, outside the store, I continued to be accosted, being told I was going to hell, Jesus hated me, etc. I did not respond in kind, but was calm in comparison to the woman. Another woman, alleging to be a Town Pump employee (we saw no Town Pump insignia on her wardrobe, told me to leave. I was hesitant to leave my caravan, including my wife (in another vehicle) and another GOP delegate who was having car trouble and adding motor oil to his vehicle.

Then, the two – the angry LGBTQ advocate and Town Pump employee – called 911 to report “the hate crime of transphobia” and the employee asked me to leave, so I left so as to not trespass, after leaving them my Montana Daily Gazette and Gideon Knox Business card to give the police. I left, with my caravan finishing their business. I immediately called the East Helena non-emergency line, passed along my information, and explained I would happily explain the First Amendment to them if they had any problems. Six days later, I was called by East Helena PD to explain they could charge me with “disorderly conduct” but were disinterested in speaking to any of the five witnesses or acquiring their contact information. I then informed them to speak to my attorney from here on out. That’s the last I’ve heard from them.

One of my secretaries has called dozens of times – the mayor, prosecutor, and police, asking for the police report. They have only sent half the report – the report made by the LGBTQ advocates, which is full of inconsistencies and lies. We still do not have my side of the full police report, despite my assistant taking dutiful notes on how many times she asked for it (and paid for it).

About three weeks later I received notice from Town Pump I was banned from all of their locations, including the Flying J truck stops and even sidewalks adjacent to their property (a dubious demand). You can see a photo of the ban below, which does not specify I was removed for my speech, religious beliefs, and commitment to biological science.

Brent Allan Winters sent a letter signed by my witnesses, as well as a dozen or so legislators who found the incident atrocious. Hundreds called Town Pump to promise a boycott (I have not called for a boycott as of yet, and this is the first article about this incident at Montana Daily Gazette), including large trucking companies and independent contractors. That I know of, without calling for a boycott, the incident has cost Town Pump more than 3 million in dollars from closed accounts of trucking companies who decided on their own not to patronize them any longer.

The letter got out because Sen. Theresa Manzella shared it, and from there it went to a large Facebook group of truckers, who apparently don’t play around with such foolishness and are willing to put their money where their mouth is. By the time it was done, Town Pump headquarters were hanging up on Montanans who called to inquire or complain about the incident.

I immediately approached my local prosecutor and the sheriff and explained why they would be receiving a notice of my ban, in case they received the impression I did something wrong or immoral. Both were receptive to my concerns. I also contacted a manager of the local Town Pump (and friend of mine) to see if she received such notice of the ban, which she did, roughly six weeks later. I was a twice-a-day customer. It became hard to travel the state, and a wonderful Patriot business loaned me their auxiliary tank to travel the state in the areas without any gas station but a town pump.

You should definitely do business with these patriots. Click a link for their website if you live anywhere near the Park City or Billings area.

Then, my attorney sent his letter. Click through the slide show below to read it (note: it does not contain legislator names, but thank you to the dozen or so of you who signed on to the letter).

Town Pump tried to posture themselves – violators of federal law as the victims. Of course, no one was jeopardizing the crossdresser’s employment (neither does anyone thing this would have been allowed in 1953). No one was harassed. They have been told (twice) to send footage of the incident and have refused, making all complaints about my “tone” moot. By the way, Constitutional rights don’t start and stop at my “tone.” Furthermore, Town Pump eisegeted – without speaking to any of their customers who witnessed the affair – that my purpose (are they omniscient?) was instigating conflict. Furthermore, I had not demeaned the employee; they demeaned themselves. By “demeaning…anyone showing support for the employee” Town Pump means the angry woman who shouted inches from my face that I was going to hell, and would not let me enter my vehicle.

Then notice the about-face. They have relinquished the ban while yet accusing me of all these various things that could be easily cleared up by video they have refused to hand over to my attorney – twice.

Ergo, I am indeed calling for a statewide boycott of all Christians, patriots, and science advocates from Town Pump who has made such accusations against me without a scintilla of evidence, and in fact, a refusal to send the evidence, of the behavior they have alleged. This has damaged my reputation, and I will continue my recourse of defending my rights under the 1964 civil rights act. See their initial letter at the end of the slide show, which takes the side of the cross-dresser and angry LGBTQ advocate over video evidence and the evidence of 5 witnesses.

My attorney soon responded, and note again his request of video evidence of what occurred. This is why we must take them to court, to demand that their accusations be retracted post haste.

Soon – faced with the reality of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, boycotts, and promises of legislation that would stop such viewpoint discrimination in places of public accomodation, Town Pump relented.

Many have asked why I am still banned from the East Helena location. Note that it was my idea; I don’t desire to give them my business, after being so ruthlessly mistreated for making both a religious and scientific statement.

Watch Brent Allan Winters be interviewed by myself and Jim White of Montana Gazette Radio. He did this pro-bono as a Christian and patriot, and we appreciate his help. Meanwhile, we will proceed with action against Town Pump short of a full, complete, and total apology for violating my civil rights. Should that not be forthcoming, we will use the court of law to defend the law and our liberty to speak freely in places of public accomodation.

[Editor’s Note: Contributed by MDG Publisher, JD Hall]




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