ROSEVILLE, CA - Sacramento gay and lesbian leaders responded to reports a gay couple being asked to leave the Roseville Galleria for public displays of affection.
"It's just ridiculous to think that any other couple of different genders, different sexes, would be asked to leave for simply having a kiss on the cheek. It's absurd," Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center Executive Director Shara Murphy said.
The couple's story has spread across social media with hundreds of people weighing in. Supporters are calling for a protest this Saturday at the mall.
Murphy insists a well-organized public display of solidarity will send a powerful message encouraging tolerance.
"There needs to be a clear continued conversation about this, so I think that a public demonstration makes sense regardless of what Westfield says," Murphy said.
The Galleria's publicist responded to News10 inquiries late Tuesday afternoon in email, "All of our customers are welcome, and all are welcome equally - including those displaying affection. We do have rules and occasionally our security officers approach customers, inform them of the rules, and ask them to comply."
Then on Tuesday evening, the mall posted on its Facebook page:
We do have rules which are intended to ensure the enjoyment of the center for all our visitors and therefore language or conduct that is sexually explicit in nature is prohibited. Simple displays of affection including kissing or hand holding are not an issue. In this case, the couple was violating the rules and the security officer requested the sexually explicit conduct be stopped. The couple was not asked to leave, because the conduct did stop. There is no basis for the claim that this incident was prompted by the sexual orientation of the individuals. Similar conduct among heterosexual couples has resulted in the same request to abide by the rules. Again, if this couple believes they were singled out, we apologize for that misunderstanding, and would like to assure them that was not the case.
But some feel the mall security officer would not have reacted the same way if this had been a heterosexual couple.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Sacramento Gay Chamber of Commerce released a statement in response to the incident saying that any rules of behavior for mall visitors should be applied equally to everyone. The statement also emphasized the purchasing power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.