Wes Breedwell, a former employee at Rocketown, a Christian-owned music venue, was purportedly fired for wearing a t-shirt in support of same-sex marriage -- or so claims a punk band that has come to his defense. Breedwell, who was an employee at the venue for seven years, used social media to make the announcement about his firing, but he gave a very different reason for the dismissal.
He wrote (emphasis added), "Got fired from Rocketown today. Social media is what did it. So here is a picture to show my support for equality and free speech including social media. Cheers to my friends for having my back through all of this. #sevenyears" The message was shared on Instagram, which appeared to be linked to his Twitter account.
Here's the Twitter announcement:
And the original message, in full, on Instagram:
With the note about his firing, Breedwell included a picture of himself wearing a Hostage Calm t-shirt (a punk band he's apparently a fan of). The text on the shirt read, "I Support Same-Sex Marriage." While the message that the former employee sent seems to indicate that he was fired for "social media" activity, some -- including members of the band -- are claiming that it was the t-shirt that got him into trouble.
An image that Hostage Calm provided to AltPress apparently shows a notice that Rocketown gave to Breedwell, citing his t-shirt as a problematic element in the workplace. The outlet that received the image describes it as, "An official statement from a band representative sent via email...presumably a document given to the ex-employee upon his firing":
Photo Credit: AltPress
But Rocketown's founder, famed Christian singer Michael W. Smith, responded to the notion that an employee would be fired for voicing an opinion about same-sex marriage. Through his publicist Jacquelyn Marushka, Smith said:
"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. Our mission is to provide a safe and drug-free environment where kids are welcomed, accepted and loved."
Based on these contradictory accounts, there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to the exact reason for the firing. In addition to releasing the letter that was allegedly given to Breedwell, Hostage Calm wrote a letter of support for the former staffer.
"A longtime supporter of Hostage Calm and marriage equality was fired from his job at the Nashville music venue, Rocketown, for wearing his 'I Support Same-Sex Marriage' shirt to work," Cmar, a member of the band, wrote on the group's web site. "A friend from Nashville contacted me about the situation and told me of Wes Breedwell, this seven-year employee of Rocketown who now finds himself the victim of discrimination."
Photo Credit: Instagram
The statement continues:
What I heard from him was a long pattern of discrimination against him for not being Christian and for supporting marriage equality. Rocketown is a Christian-owned non-profit community center and venue: not a church. And yet, over the seven years he has worked there, he’s been denied opportunities for advancement and salary based on his non-Christian beliefs. Today, Rocketown fired him for wearing this shirt commemorating equality (along with his non-Christian activity on social media pages). Wes emphasized that employees routinely wear band shirts at Rocketown. So why did this shirt cause such a problem?
It’s important to note that they didn’t fire him for wearing A SHIRT. They fired him because of what that shirt stands for. For what that shirt threatens.
This shirt represents an idea that all people have the right to live their lives without being told who to love and whose love is more valuable. It represents equality under the law. It represents the freedom to choose.
A definitive answer hasn't yet been determined, as Breedwell has declined thus far to comment and confirm which account is more accurate.
(H/T: AOL Jobs)