Trump supporter cries discrimination over being kicked out of Florida tiki bar -- after ignoring 'no hat' sign
Mark Marlow (provided to the Herald-Tribune)

A Florida man complained that he was kicked out of a tiki bar over his "Make America Great Again" hat -- but the business owner insists politics were not involved.

Mark Marlow went with his girlfriend to the popular Bahi Hut Lounge in Sarasota, where the Trump supporter said an employee refused to serve him, reported the Herald-Tribune.

“I was not drunk, I was not loud, I was not using profane language, I was not creating a scene — nothing,” Marlow told the newspaper. “They said it was just because of the hat.”

The 51-year-old Marlow stayed at the bar, and a few minutes later the employee threatened to call police if he didn't leave peacefully, and officers arrived as he was walking out about 20 minutes later.

Police told Marlow the business had a right to refuse him service, but the conservative said the incident continued to bother him over the weekend so he searched the internet for his local Republican Party to lodge a complaint.

He found a number for state Sen. Joe Gruters, an ally of President Donald Trump who serves as the chair of both the Sarasota GOP and of the Republican Party of Florida -- and the lawmaker publicized the incident on his Facebook page.

"As a community, we should reject these type of actions," Gruters posted, "as it will lead to more division and hostility on both sides. We live in the greatest Country that has ever existed and this behavior should be considered unacceptable.”

Marlow also said he reported the incident as a tip using the Fox News website, but he had not heard from the network.

However, Bahi Hut owner Jim Beck denied that Marlow had been discriminated against but was instead asked to leave, according to his employee, because he did not follow the bar's dress code prohibiting hats of any kind.

“I don’t know what to believe at this point,” said owner Jim Beck. “Right in the foyer as you enter the bar it says no hats. He’s saying what he told the gentleman very politely, very nicely, was no hats.”

Beck said he heard Marlow had gotten into a dispute with others, and an employee confronted him over the no-hat policy, which he said had been enforced against another person earlier that same day.

“I don’t know what to make of it, what to do,” Beck said. “The policy’s written right there. It’s engraved in wood paneling. I can’t beat them up for following the policy.”

Marlow claims other patrons were wearing hats, and he said he jokingly exchanged hats with a man wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers hat, but he thinks his displayed support for a polarizing president might have angered other customers.

“Given the fact that 50 percent of the population does not support Trump," Marlow said, "I imagine there was somebody in the bar that found offense with my hat, but that doesn’t excuse the behavior."