Calif. Mall Apologizes For Booting Kissing Gay Couple
Officials from Westfield Mall in Roseville, Calif., a northeastern Sacramento suburb, have apologized for kicking out a gay couple who were thrown out for kissing, Roseville (Calif.) Patch reports.
The apology came on Saturday after a "kiss-in" protested the ejection of Daniel Chesmore, 21, and his boyfriend Jose Guzman, 24, who said a mere peck on the check so offended a security guard on March 2 that he booted them from the mall.
"I kissed him on the cheek. That's how my boyfriend and I show affection," Chesmore said. The couple also said they recorded a security guard when he told them to stop kissing. "If you continue to kiss, you will be asked to leave the mall. Period," the voice on the recording said. "I counted you guys kissing 25 times. I told you before, we contact any couple [...] about this."
After the couple's story made national headlines, about 250 LGBT couples came together to protest the incident for what was billed as a "Love is Love" event at the mall. Carrie Martin, who helped organize the protest, said she's not upset with the guard who told Chesmore and Guzman to leave the mall for kissing.
"The reality is that people are still uncomfortable and don't know what to do around queer people," she added. "It's not hateful."
Event organizers Beverly Kearney and David Larson, himself a former Roseville City Council candidate and founding president of Sacramento's Rainbow Coalition, spoke at the protest. The mall's vice president, Keith Kaplan, showed up at the protest, where he apologized to the couple.
"I am here today to unequivocally state that everyone is welcome here at Westfield and we sincerely apologize by any actions taken by any of us that made anyone feel otherwise," Kaplan said. "I am particularly proud to represent our company at this event. I live in Hollywood with my partner Mike for over 20 years."
The mall's officials also formally apologized to Chesmore and Guzman in a statement posted on March 5 on the Westfield Mall's Facebook page.
"All of our customers are welcome, and all are welcome equally -- including those displaying affection," the statement read. "We do have rules and occasionally our security officers approach customers, inform them of the rules, and ask them to comply."
Mall executives said they were "sorry for any misperceptions with regard to the incident reported upon yesterday. At Westfield, we celebrate the diversity of our employees, shoppers and community, and will continue to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all."
Watch the clip of Kaplan's speech at the rally: