About 50 gay activists protested Friday
outside the restaurant where two men were asked to leave because they
were kissing. The activists say they are not protesting the
restaurant but how the police handled the situation.
The men say security guards at Chicos
Tacos, a Mexican fast-food chain, in El Paso, Texas asked them to
leave the restaurant Sunday night because two of the men had been
“We went, sat down to eat our food
and security guards came and said that if they kept doing that, they
were going to throw us all out of the restaurant,” Carlos Diaz de
Leon, one of the men involved in the altercation, said.
“They said 'We don't allow that gay
stuff to go on here',” he added.
When asked for comment the security
guards said the men were behaving loudly. A claim the men deny.
The men then reached out for help from
the El Paso police department. Officers arrived on the scene about
an hour later and falsely claimed that the men were breaking the law
and threatened to cite the men.
“[The police] told us it was against
the law for two males and two females to kiss in public, that they
could cite us for homosexual activity,” Diaz de Leon said.
The Supreme Court struck down laws that
prohibit being gay, including laws that would ban public displays, in
2004. Additionally, an El Paso city ordinance bans discrimination
based on sexual orientation.
A police spokesman said the state's ban
on homosexuality remained on the books, but added it was no longer
At the protest, supporters created some
noise as they held up signs that read “Honk for Equality” in the
scorching 100-degree desert heat, kfoxtv.com reported.
The police department initially
attempted to pass off the threat of citation as a rookie mistake, and
not discriminatory in nature.
“Did he make a comment that he
shouldn't have made?” Chris Mears, an El Paso police department
spokesman, said. “Yeah, he did … but that comment I don't think
was discriminatory in nature. I think it was poor understanding of
A couple of days later, the department
was striking a slightly more conciliatory tone. But to date ithas
still refused to apologize.
In a statement offered to the press,
the department said it recognized “the negative impact that
discrimination can have on a community,” but the statement did not
recognize the gay, lesbian,bisexual and transgender community, opting
instead to address the issue with broad strokes.
The men say they have filed a complaint
against the police department.