No Kissing Allowed :: Smooching Gay Couple Allegedly Kicked Out of Mall
A gay couple claims a security guard booted them from a California mall for kissing and holding hands, Sacramento, Calif., FOX affiliate KTXL reports.
Daniel Chesmore, 21, and his boyfriend Jose Guzman, 24, said they were told to leave the Westfield Galleria in Roseville, Calif., on March 2 after a security guard yelled at them for kissing and holding hands. The news station notes that the guard claimed "any couple" engaging in public displays of affection would be asked to stop.
"I kissed him on the cheek. That's how my boyfriend and I show affection," Chesmore said.
The couple said they recorded the security guard when he asked them to stop kissing.
"If you continue to kiss, you will be asked to leave the mall. Period," the voice on the recording said. "I counted you guys kissing 25 times. I told you before, we contact any couple [...] about this."
A reporter for the news station went to the mall undercover and said she saw several straight couples "sitting inside of the Galleria, holding hands and smooching, right out in the open. And as the hours passed, not one couple Fox40 witnessed was asked to leave the mall."
Chesmore says in "a perfect world, there would be no difference in treatment between straight couples and gay couples."
Although the mall's general manager, Eddie Ollmann, would not speak with Fox40, he released a written statement and said, "Persons that violate the Code of Conduct are asked to leave the property."
But as the article notes, the mall's code of conduct does not mention public displays of affection.
"It makes me feel like no matter what I do in society, I will always be different." Chesmore told Fox40. Guzman added that they are respectful and rarely kiss in public and said he feels "l like we're always treated differently because we're gay. It makes me sad."
After the couple's story made headlines, a number of Facebook users took to the West field Galleria's Facebook page and criticized the mall's actions.
"Shame on you. I am truly disgusted by the behavior of those employed by you. You guys are obviously bullies that pick out those that are different," one user writes. "I mean who the hell goes and follows a couple around and count the times they kiss?"
"I'm shocked by the actions of your security guard and the general manager," another user wrote. "I will not be shopping with ANY Westfield mall or otherwise until the guard and management make a personal apology to the couple in question and a public apology. As for the guard, what a lack of professionalism saying 'I counted you kissing 25 times'?"
After receiving some backlash, the mall's page wrote, "All of our customers are welcome, and all are welcome equally -- including those displaying affection. We do have rules and occasionally our security officers approach customers, inform them of the rules, and ask them to comply. We're sorry for any misperceptions with regard to the incident reported upon yesterday. At Westfield, we celebrate the diversity of our employees, shoppers and community, and will continue to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all."
A few hours later, the page made another post and reiterated that the mall does not "discriminate based on gender, race, age, sexual orientation and so forth." It added, "Simple displays of affection including kissing or hand holding are not an issue. In this case, the couple was violating the rules and the security officer requested the sexually explicit conduct be stopped. The couple was not asked to leave, because the conduct did stop. There is no basis for the claim that this incident was prompted by the sexual orientation of the individuals. Similar conduct among heterosexual couples has resulted in the same request to abide by the rules. Again, if this couple believes they were singled out, we apologize for that misunderstanding, and would like to assure them that was not the case."