A lesbian couple was kicked out of a Kentucky park during a maternity photo session after one of the women gave the other an innocent kiss.
The incident, which occurred at E.C. Million Park in Richmond, has renewed calls for a "fairness law" that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens from discrimination.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Cheri Chenault and her partner Destiny Keith were posing for maternity photos in the park last Saturday. As photographer Jessica Miller-Poole was snapping away, the couple exchanged an innocent kiss.
"They had such a small kiss, such a peck of a kiss, that I wasn't even able to capture a picture of it," Miller-Poole, owner of 13 Wishes Photography in Richmond, told the paper. But immediately after the kiss, Miller-Poole says a park employee approached them and ordered her off the property, saying "those type of people are not welcome here" and threatening an indefinite ban if she "brings those things with you."
Those "things" he was referring to were not her photography equipment, but rather Chenault and Keith.
"At that point I had to walk away, because those 'things' were my clients and those 'type of people' were no different from you and me," Miller-Poole told the paper.
Miller-Poole struggles to comprehend the attendant's bigoted behavior.
"There's a large sign posted, and it tells the hours of the park, no cats, no dogs, no football, no weddings-- things along that line," she told the paper. "It doesn't say anything about a specific race, sexual orientation, anything like that."
But there is no law in Richmond protecting LGBT residents against the kind of discrimination faced by Chenault and Keith in E.C. Million Park. Advocacy groups want to change that, with the Fairness Campaign calling for a local ordinance to ban such discriminatory behavior.
"This young couple's plight is a perfect elucidation of the need for a local fairness ordinance in Richmond," Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman told the Herald-Leader. "In truth, we need an anti-discrimination [law] that will cover the whole commonwealth, but until that law passes, local fairness ordinances... are necessary."
The issue of such a law was debated last year, but neither Richmond nor nearby Berea passed legislation. Berea Mayor Steve Connelly backed the creation of a joint human rights commission, but Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes rejected the idea as "premature." Madison County Judge-Executive Kent Clark said he wouldn't be able to find enough people to serve on such a commission, citing a lack of interest.
Local fairness ordinances were also opposed by many religious and "family values" groups, with Andrew Walker, an analyst with The Family Foundation, denying there is an anti-LGBT discrimination problem in the area.
"Advocates of the [fairness ordinance] are seeking to use the force of law to validate their philosophical and sexual preferences and silence religious and moral opposition," Walker told the Richmond Register last June.