After an employee of the Nashville music venue/youth outreach center Rocketown was fired in late January for what appeared to be his support of same-sex marriage, and a physical altercation between the venue's staff and a member of the band Volumes that was first reported as an instance of the club objecting to his own support of gay marriage (and later debunked), a flurry of outrage and condemnation arose online, with calls to boycott the venue by fans and threatened cancelations from bands.
In the first instance, Wes Breedwell, who had worked at Rocketown for seven years, is alleged to have been fired for inappropriate behavior on social media or for wearing a T-shirt expressing support of same-sex marriage, depending on which accounts you read. The only problem is, the entire situation may have been based on a misunderstanding, or at the very least, an exaggeration. And while it certainly is distasteful for an employer to fire a worker for their political beliefs, in this case, it wouldn't have been illegal for them to do so.
Neither Breedwell, nor Rocketown—a Christian, youth-oriented non-profit that also serves as a coffee shop, skate park, and outreach center—are commenting on the matter any further, and neither returned requests for interviews. Rocketown did release the following statement January 24: “Rocketown does not comment on personnel issues, but, generally speaking, an employee would not be fired for expressing opinions on marriage. At Rocketown, we are welcoming and accepting of all youth. We reach out to all kids, are inclusive and very much care about acceptance of youth from different ethnicities, sexual orientations, financial backgrounds and religions.”
While a cynic might say the statement seems like boilerplate rhetoric from a business looking to save face, keep in mind, as a religious organization, Rocketown management don't even need to bother. Phrases like “inclusive” and “accepting of all youth” just aren't in the vernacular of religiously conservative groups. This is Tennessee, a state in which a “Don't Say Gay” bill that passed in the state Senate in 2011, but failed in the House, has resurfaced again. The bill would prevent the discussion of homosexuality in grades K-8, and require schools to inform a student’s parents if they suspect the child is gay. In that climate, Rocketown's statement makes the venue seem downright progressive. There are numerous comments online from regular attendees of Rocketown who maintain that it is, in fact, a welcoming place for LGBT youth.