A lesbian couple says a restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona forced them to end their anniversary celebration early after they hugged and kissed.
The Arizona Republic reported that the couple was dining at the District American Kitchen & Wine Bar, located inside the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, when a restaurant employee saw them kissing and asked them to leave.
Arizona Equality Executive Director Nick Ray told Raw Story that the couple reached out to him to help “figure out what needs to be done to rectify the situation.”
“I finally was able to speak to the general manager of the hotel,” he explained. “I’m not sure they really actually had a sense of the degree of anger they caused in the community, which they added to last night because they deleted dozens of [negative] comments off their Facebook page.”
Sheraton management was scheduled to meet with the couple on Tuesday, according to Ray. But he has also recommended diversity training for the staff.
“My guess is going to be that this individual employee didn’t know how to deal with the situation and felt like he had to make a snap decision,” he speculated. “It’s not the case that it’s simple as putting it in the human resources policy and saying, you know, we treat everybody fairly. It’s how it actually gets done on the ground. And that is where I hope we really can make some progress.”
Ray said that while Arizona had gotten a reputation for bigotry in recent years, many restaurants in the downtown Phoenix area are “gay friendly.”
“I won’t deny the fact that there are a significant number of people in our state legislature on the Republican side who are vehemently anti-gay, and who would never consider supporting legislation that would in any way be seen as recognizing the legitimacy of the LGBT community as a class that’s discriminated against,” he told Raw Story. “The SB 1070 [anti-immigration law] has drawn attention to the state in that regard, but it has also meant that other minority populations have become more aware of their situation within the state.”
A message posted on District Kitchen’s Facebook page Tuesday morning said the restaurant was “taking this incident very seriously.”
“At District American Kitchen & Wine Bar, we embrace diversity and are proud supporters of the LGBT community,” the statement said. “We have cultivated strong relationships with organizations dedicated to diversity. We have supported and we will continue to support many events that are specific to gay, lesbian and allied individuals. … Our restaurant is open for all to enjoy and we sincerely regret that this incident took place.”
Calls to hotel management were not returned by the time of publication.