Mississippi lesbian couple says pastor kicked them out of bowling alley for kissing
A same-sex couple says the owner of a Mississippi bowling alley had them booted out of his establishment after they kissed — an action that is legal for businesses in the state.
Tiffany Franklin and her girlfriend, Jazmine Lewis, were at Metro 24 Bowling Center in Jackson on Saturday night when they were told not to show affection for each other.
“He just blatantly said, ‘This is my establishment. I do what I want to,’ and then, ‘I’m a pastor,'” Shannon Divinity, a friend of the women, told WAPT.
“It was just a small peck on the lips. He said, ‘I want to be as discreet as possible. I would like you to refrain from doing that,’ and we said, ‘From doing what?'” Franklin added.
The women say they were forced to leave the bowling alley, but an attorney for the business denied that the women were kicked out. The owner of the bowling alley said he didn’t want kids to be exposed to women kissing.
Mississippi College School of Law professor Matt Steffey told WAPT that businesses in Mississippi are allowed to deny services to gay or lesbian people. The state does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Mississippi also enacted a religious freedom law last year that makes it easier for businesses to refuse to serve same-sex couples.
“If his conduct was religiously motivated, he could invoke the statute … and the law protects him,” Steffey explained.
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