Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dining While Gay: Some Restaurants May Legally Refuse Service

This post was syndicated May 26 at

Did you see ABC's show What Would You Do? hosted by John Quinones this week? One of its segments featured families with gay parents in a restaurant and a loud waiter harassing them. Regardless of children at the gay couple's table showing distress, most of the customers observing remained silent, later saying it was not their business how the people were treated. (I wonder how many of these people think it's their business if a gay couple wants to marry.)

In the first clip below, Quinones says that in more than half the states in the U.S.A. restaurant owners may legally refuse service to homosexual men and lesbians. That information blew me away. It never occurred to me that restaurants could legally turn away someone based on sexual orientation.

The right to refuse service, even a refusal based on race, came back in the news recently with comments from Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul on the Rachel Maddow show. According to Dan Weigel, a conservative at the Washington Post, Paul's comments have been reported out of context, and he believes that Paul is not a racist. Weigel gives him points for honesty and says Paul was voicing a legitimate conservative view.

The segments from What Would You Do? include two adult women who grew up with gay parents. One shared that she used to lie and tell people her mother's partner was her sister or a friend so she could avoid being ostracized.

I looked up the information regarding state laws that allow right to refuse service to gay people, but did not find a document supporting the statistic from Quinones. I did, however, find this old case from last year in which gay men were booted from a Texas restaurant for kissing in public. The first comment on that post is similar to one in the ABC video. "Children need to be protected from abnormal behavior," said the commenter.

Here is a screen shot from the ABC segment of states where it's legal to refuse service based on sexual orientation. Click the image for a larger view.

Most of the states identified are in the south and midwest.

Business owners who refuse serving gay customers for religious reasons are losing more lawsuits despite arguing that being forced to serve homosexuals violates their religious freedom, according to this 2009 Washington Post column.
But gay groups and liberal legal scholars say they are prevailing because an individual's religious views about homosexuality cannot be used to violate gays' right to equal treatment under the law.
In the following video, which is a continuation of the segment, Quinones says lesbians report how people respond to them changes depending on what they wear, masculine clothing or feminine clothing. I learned in a post at that sometimes even lesbians treat lesbians differently based on what they wear. That was news to me as well.

My position on this is that restaurants should have the right to refuse service based on attire or behavior. That's it. If they want to establish a policy that says "No public displays of romantic affection by anyone," then do that. But don't pick and choose who can get frisky in public and who can't.

No shirt; no shoes; no service. O.K.

No costumes. Fine.

No tie; no dinner. Sure.

No loudmouth a**hattery. Yup.

No making out at the table. Acceptable.

No gays, no blacks, no Mexicans, no whites, Asians, etc. Wrong. Wrong. Double wrong.

I watched the premiere of ABC's What Would You Do? two weeks ago and was not able to watch it again until last night. At first I was going to post the clip showing how people didn't question a white young man stealing a bike, but questioned a black young man. That wasn't surprising. What blew me away was the number of men who actually helped steal the bike when producers switched to an attractive blonde female as crook. I dropped that video, however, in favor of this segment.

Men being led by their lower heads is not news. That we in America tolerate laws that allow restaurants to refuse service based on sexual orientation is.


Lisa Paul said...

Wow. Just wow! I had no idea. Now if the Gays in question were Hispanic and in Arizona, it would be open for a discrimination two-fer.

Joanna said...

Children need to be protected from
"abnormal" behavior??? How about abnormal behavior such as homophobia? Racism? Hatred of others based on sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, etc?? Those types of behavior seem pretty abnormal to me!

Autumnfire said...

This is shocking and unconscionable, I never knew about this but now I'm going to spread the news to others that probably have no idea this is legal either.