Cookie Shop Accused Of Refusing 'Coming Out Day' Order

City Market Vendors Subject To Indianapolis' Anti-Discriminatory Ordinance

A cookie shop at Indianapolis' City Market is being investigated after a university said the business refused to fill an order for a National Coming Out Day celebration.

Heather Browning, a coordinator for social justice education in the Office of Student Involvement at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, was organizing the Oct. 7 event, aimed at encouraging coming out and discussion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.

She told 6News' Joanna Massee that she called Just Cookies to inquire about getting rainbow cookies made for the event.

"When I explained it to him the nature of the celebration, the gentleman told me that it was against their morals and values to do so, and then hung up on me," Browning said.

City spokesman Robert Vane said the city will launch an investigation next week to determine if Just Cookies, which has operated inside the City Market since the 1990s, violated Indianapolis' anti-discriminatory ordinance.

"Growing the City Market through offering a better product means little when the people offering a better product can decide who they want to sell to and who they don't," Vane said.

Just Cookies Owner David Stockton told Massee that he has been advised to not make any further comments about the situation.

"I'm not going to talk because people who I like and respect have told me [not] to," he said.

City Market Board President Wayne Schmidt said it is premature to speculate on how the situation will be handled, but said Just Cookies currently pays rent month-to-month and could be told to leave at any time.

"It's not a matter of can we afford to (lose the business) or not, it's a matter of what's the right thing to do," he said.

Browning said in a statement, "The purpose of making this story known is not to bully or ruin a family's business. It is to open up a dialogue and allow people to form their own opinions about the company."

City Market customer Samantha Gonder said she will no longer patronize Just Cookies.

"I think it's absolutely wrong for them to deny service to anybody," she said. "This is 2010. This isn't 1920 ... We're living in new times. We have to get over this."