Last week, a security guard at the Roseville Galleria mall asked a same-sex couple to leave the premises after seeing them hold hands and kiss. The gay men recorded the confrontation with the security guard, who stressed that he would ask any couple that was kissing to leave.
Sacramento news stations went to the Roseville Galleria for hours and filmed straight couples holding hands and kissing. Not one was asked to leave. The couple involved told Fox40 News they just want to be treated equally.
Californians as a whole are feeling more equal these days. A Field Poll released last month found 61 percent of Californians now approve of same-sex marriage. It’s a stunning turnaround from just five years ago, when voters passed Proposition 8, restoring California’s ban on same-sex marriage.
With the idea of same-sex relationships and marriage equality gaining public support, said couples are going to start feeling freer to express their love in public like heterosexual couples. Are folks ready to treat same-sex couples kissing in a local park, restaurant or at the mall the same they would a heterosexual couple?
Solano Town Center, aka Solano mall, doesn’t mention public displays of affection in its lengthy behavioral code of conduct, but its posted policy is to respect everyone’s civil rights. On a side note, I’ve had a lesbian friend walk through the mall often holding hands with her girlfriend with no trouble.
After the ouster of the gay couple by Roseville Galleria security, outraged gay rights activists and others called management and planned a “kiss in” at the mall. The mall’s management went from standoffish to inviting. Not only did the mall issue an apology, it welcomed same-sex couples in to hold their kiss in this week.
But there is a sizable backlash out there. One need not look further than last year’s controversy when Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made his anti-same-sex marriage views and donations to anti-gay groups known. The battle was on.
Last August, hundreds of people flocked to our local Chick-fil-A, the Bay Area’s only store at the time, in support of traditional marriage. So many anti-equality and free speech supporters showed up that the restaurant ran out of food. A subsequent same-sex kiss in fizzled as only two couples showed up.
Still, after the flap, Cathy announced he’d no longer contribute money to anti-gay groups. He made the decision that Roseville Galleria apparently made, that in the long run, controversy isn’t good for business. The mood of the country is changing and becoming more tolerant and businesses don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of that. It’s a subject employers need to be clear on with their employees.
So no, this isn’t your parents’ America. No one says you have to approve of gay people. You can find it immoral or whatever you like. Your church can preach against it in the pulpit. You’re free to look away if you spot a same-sex couple showing affection in public. Just like no one has to approve of interracial couples, no one has to be pleased with gay couples. But what we can’t do is discriminate because of it.
As long as one group can be singled out and discriminated against, then all of us are vulnerable to the same mistreatment. Peace.
Kelvin Wade is a writer who lives in Fairfield. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.