Baby store owner harassed over ‘lesbian’ discounts

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A baby store owner in Park Slope is getting blasted with threats from callers enraged by a special discount she offers lesbian moms in the gay-, kid-, discount- and mom-and-pop–friendly neighborhood.

Karen Paperno, owner of Boing Boing maternity boutique on Sixth Avenue, announced a 10-percent discount for gay mamas — prompting at first criticism and then straight-up harassment after posting the discount a month ago.

In a one-week period, Paperno says she’s fielded five crazed callers — mostly homophobes from out of state — who have spewed hate speech and even threatened to hurt her.

“It’s really scary,” said Paperno, who runs the shop at Union Street. “I’m living in fear; I feel so violated.”

Paperno, who is married to a man, said she offered the discount to lesbian moms as a celebration of feminism and diversity.

“I like to help people,” she said, adding, “Women make less money than men.”

The 15-year-old shop offers virtually everything the new mother needs, including organic cotton nursing pads, breast pumps, slings and baby shoes.

Paperno’s sign reading “10 percent discount for lesbians” is on a brick wall behind the register. Since announcing the discount, she’s accepted the word of lesbians who claim the discount. Non-lesbians moms — yes, there are a few still out there — haven’t had a problem with the discounts for their sapphic sisters, Paperno said.

“People come in and laugh and love it,” she said.

The sign didn’t cause much trouble — aside from an occasional pout from a gay father — until last week, when reported on the bargain. The post prompted impassioned critics to complain about everything from sexism to the sanctity of marriage.

“This is blatantly discrimina­tory,” wrote Richard Sol, one commenter on the blog. “I wish godspeed to whomever sues these sexists.”

It got worse when several scary men — some of whom accused Paperno of trying to get rich in the name of sin — began to phone Boing Boing.

One called her, “a fat bull dyke who needs to get f—ed.”

Now, she says she’s scared to be alone at the shop at night.

Offensive or not, Paperno has nothing to worry about — at least legally.

“If she wants to offer a discount to a group she thinks is underprivileged, she’s entitled to,” said discrimination lawyer Murray Schwartz, adding that customers don’t have the same rights as employees. “Retailers can basically do whatever they want.”

Paperno says she’ll do just that: She has no plans to take the sign down.

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Reader Feedback

Or from Yellow Hook says:
"Paperno, who is married to a man,"

Imagine that!

All men are created equal, but some are more equal than others!
April 30, 2011, 8:41 am
forkuu from the best says:
i read all the stupid bigoted replies to this article and what the moron called said and i felt pity for the people who wrote because they lack the education and intelligence to look at our world with an open mind.
yes fools the educated world looks down on you because you are dumb.. worry about your own pitiful lives not about people who are smarter than you...
April 30, 2011, 9:54 am
Joseph from Park Slope says:
Discrimination comes in all forms. Discounts for homosexuals is an outrage. This only happens because it is tolerated. People should see this for what it is discrimination. This store should be boycotted until the discount is removed.
April 30, 2011, 10:23 am
mike128 from lefferts gardens says:
hey - why dont we focus on all the extra benefits heterosexual couples get before we worry about the 10% discount at boing boing? i mean seriously, are people concerned about anti-heterosexual discrimination??!
April 30, 2011, 2:31 pm
Colby from Mine says:
Mike128 aside, you all are idiots.
April 30, 2011, 2:38 pm
James says:
But Pat Robertson said lesbians don't have children and that is their advantage...
April 30, 2011, 3:56 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
How silly to offer a discount for a preference that is natural and you have no control over.

Would you offer a discount for skin color?
April 30, 2011, 4:04 pm
Kris from Santa Fe, NM says:
Yay Boing Boing! I wish you had an online store. I am a lesbian who thinks, in the name of feminism, the discount could benefit single moms, too.
April 30, 2011, 4:13 pm
Mike from Where The Smart People Roam says:

Stupid people: Stop whining about how you want to take away benefits from an under-represented discriminated-against minority because *you* are so self-entitled to everything every other group gets. If you're going to use this logic, at least vote *for* gay marriage, otherwise you look like the hypocrite you are.

Or from Yellow Hook: Yes, a discount for skin color should be very valid indeed. When other people make less than a dollar for every dollar I make *because of their skin color*, to equalize the stupidity of people like you, there could be a discount.

Other people: Sup.
April 30, 2011, 6:44 pm
Elizabeth123 from Manhattan says:
Not totally sure that lesbian couples are a good proxy for needy families. Yes, women earn less, but what are their respective fields? What if one is a high paid lawyer and the other a senior advertising exec? A better way to help would be to post a discount for women that are eligible for assistance (food stamp cards, Medicaid, WIC). There are lots of well-off couples in Park Slope. Feminism and diversity- but not one or the other? I don't get it. I think the owner genuinely wants to help, but is unclear how to articulate the issue that really motivates her and then translate that in form of an incentive inclusive of diversity. If it's to celebrate feminism, are straight women discounted? If it's to celebrate all types of "motherhood", even the "untraditional" then male couples should be included. If it's some statement around welfare of child, then it should be a 10% thanks for all adopting parents who make a difference. Kudos for a kind heart, though!
April 30, 2011, 7:06 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
Every woman that shops there should claim that they are a lesbian. That will end things soon enough.
April 30, 2011, 7:49 pm
Jessie from Manhattan says:
Joseph, I'll let the irony of your statement sink in.
April 30, 2011, 7:51 pm
Johnny from Manhattan says:
Joseph is just upset because his uterus was excluded. Kudos to Mrs Paperno for her kindness and willingness to put her money where her mouth is. Wonderful and truly inspirational-we need many more like her.
April 30, 2011, 9:49 pm
Lo from Parkslope says:
OH NO NOW EVERYONE BUT THE LESBIANS WON'T GET TWO DOLLARS OFF! seriously if you need the two bucks that badly get out of parkslope and go in to a ghetto. 10% is NOT a big deal...
May 1, 2011, 3:54 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Mike from where, your logic is more than I could possibly counter!
May 1, 2011, 8:49 am
David B from owhere near Brooklyn says:
Good luck with this and dont let the homophobes bully you
May 1, 2011, 3:09 pm
Gabi from Atlantic Ocean says:
What is wrong with you people? This is a private business! She can do whatever she wants with it. Other businesses give discounts to people who shop on their birthday, or people who collect stupid coupons cut out from newspapers. None of you is forced to go shopping there!

Get a life!
May 1, 2011, 5:43 pm
joebkny says:
Sounds like cynthia still needs a date. I told her to call me.
May 1, 2011, 6:10 pm
joebkny says:
but then again. she sounds like a silly little ——. so dont!
May 1, 2011, 6:11 pm
Gus from Windsor Terrace says:
Since we gay folks don't get many tax benefits that straight people do, this weirdly makes sense. I mean, 10% is just a bit more than sales tax on an item. Now, we all pay sales tax, but various levels of government use that and income tax to subsidize straight couples with kids.

In a sense, then, this is like giving non-Europeans a VAT tax refund at the airport.
May 1, 2011, 7:12 pm
Cynthia from clinton hill says:
@Joe which Cynthia. Is a ____?
May 1, 2011, 8:09 pm
joebkny says:
Anyone named Cynthia from Clinton hills who post on the brooklynpaper site.
May 1, 2011, 8:42 pm
joebkny says:
=Cynthia from Clinton Hill says:
so i take it i dont get a discount?,no muff diving here.
Report abuseYesterday, 7:26 am

that one!
May 1, 2011, 8:43 pm
brooklynthoughts from park slope says:
I agree, single moms or single dads would benefit from the 10 percent. Most Lesbian moms I know, are senior executives and dont need the 10%. As a single mom, I surely could use it!
Any lesbians out there want to offer me the 10%??
May 2, 2011, 1:05 pm
Cynthia from Clinton Hill says:
Dong, typing on iPhone
May 2, 2011, 9:32 pm
Rafa from Barcelona (Spain) says:
Claro que si, no están en contra del aborto, pues que ayuden a los que viven.
May 5, 2011, 1:42 pm
Mali from Sheepshead bklyn says:
What a shame! Never mind the discount, this evil perversion of homosexuality should never be in the first place. No wonder the society is screwed up, people practicing this evil lifestyle that goes against nature. Ewwh! Vomit, so disgustin men to men , women to women abomination, it could never be right, no matter how pretty the lifestyle is painted to be. Desecration of humanity. IF this was the case how would we be born? I dont hate homosexuals I have homosexual friend, would do anything to help him, but he knows am not for that lifestyle. But whenever he needs something I will help him.
May 18, 2011, 4:15 pm says:
Sorry for the interruption! There is a little piece of comment about lesbians. Girls, you can try Leskissing.c om! It's safe and interesting. We do every things to help you find your love. Trust me!
May 19, 2011, 2:50 am

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