Lesbians Kicked Out of Ky. Park For Kissing Sparks Outrage

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday July 18, 2012

A lesbian couple from Kentucky was recently kicked out of a private park after a gatekeeper spotted them sharing a kiss. The incident has been widely reported, in the British newspaper the Daily Mail, among other media.

The couple, Cheri Chenault and Destiny Keith, was taking maternity photographs in E.C. Million Park in Richmond, Ky., earlier this month. Jessica Miller-Poole, the couple's photographer, said she asked the women to share a small kiss but a park gatekeeper was apparently offended and insisted they had to leave because "those type of people are not welcome here."

"They had such a small kiss, such a peck of a kiss, that I wasn't even able to capture a picture of it," Miller-Poole told Kentucky.com. She claims the park employee said she had to leave as well and that she would be banned from the park depending on "your behavior and if you come back and if you bring those things with you."

"At that point I had to walk away, because those 'things' were my clients and those 'type of people' were no different from you and me," Miller-Poole said. "There's a large sign posted, and it tells the hours of the park, no cats, no dogs, no football, no weddings, things along that line," she said. "It doesn't say anything about a specific race, sexual orientation, anything like that."

"It was just a peck of a kiss. We were told it was inappropriate behavior for us to kiss," she added," Chenault told CBS affiliate WKYT. "We've been called different names, but we've never been kicked out of a place. I look at us as a family. We're having a baby, so a family park, family picture."

Members of the Fairness Campaign, a Kentucky advocacy group, have urged lawmakers to implement a local fairness ordinance to would protect gay men and lesbians from some forms of discrimination.

"This young couple's plight is a perfect elucidation of the need for a local fairness ordinance in Richmond," Chris Hartman, director of the group, said in a news release. "In truth, we need an anti-discrimination (law) that will cover the whole commonwealth, but until that law passes, local fairness ordinances in Richmond, Berea and other cities around the state are necessary."

Sandra Anez-Powell, a chairwoman for Richmond Human Rights Commission, said current law doesn't exist telling the women they had to leave the park.

Kentucky does not recognize marriage equality and prohibits same-sex couples from adopting children. In addition, the state does not have any hate crime or discrimination laws that protect on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity. A Public Policy Polling survey from August 2011 found that 62 percent of Kentucky voters believe gay marriage should be illegal while 26 percent supported gay marriage; 12 percent were uncommitted.