Friday, July 10, 2009


Cross posted at Antemedius and The Peace Tree.

I lived in Houston for over twenty years and still never cease to be amazed at what happens in the Lone Star State. A few weeks ago, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, there was police violence against LBGTs in Fort Worth. Now there is this ridiculous - and most likely illegal - police behaviour in west Texas:
At about 12:30 a.m. on the morning of June 29, the five men were placing their order at the Chico's Tacos on Montwood when the two men made their public display of affection, sparking the ire of two contracted security guards at the restaurant, police and witnesses said. After the group sat down, the security guards told them "they didn't allow that faggot stuff to go on there," and made them leave, de Leon said.

An officer arrived at the restaurant about an hour later, after police received five calls, including from the security guards and de Leon. The men were told to leave the restaurant and had anti-gay slurs directed at them while they waited for the police.

"I went up to the police officer to tell him what was going on and he didn't want to hear my side," de Leon said. "He wanted to hear the security guard's side first."

The officer informed the group it was illegal for two men or two women to kiss in public, de Leon said. The five were told they could be cited for homosexual conduct - a charge the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas. That same year, the city of El Paso passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation by employees of the city and by businesses open to the public.

"The security guard received a complaint from some of the customers there," Carrillo said. "Every business has the right to refuse service..."
Briana Stone, a lawyer with the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, disagrees. She said city ordinance protects people on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in public places, including Chico's Tacos. Perhaps more troubling, she said, is that the police officer chose not to enforce that ordinance and may have contributed to discrimination.

"This is such a blatant refusal to uphold the law on account of discrimination," she said. "The result is devastating. The police department is allowing that and even participating in it by refusing to enforce an anti-discrimination ordinance, which is what their job is."

Lisa Graybill, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, said businesses can ask patrons to leave for lewd conduct, but those standards would have to apply to all customers.

"If a straight couple wouldn't have gotten kicked out for it, a gay couple shouldn't," she said. "That's general jurisprudence."
This story gives new meaning to the state's tourism slogan used for over twenty years, "Texas: It’s Like a Whole Other Country.” Why don't they just follow Gov. Rick Perry's advice and secede, goddamit!

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