Friday, 28 October 2011

Just how far should a couple express their love in public?

Riley Murphy, 25, and her girlfriend, Patricia Pattenden, 23 who are lesbians and presumably are also lovers were at a Tim Hortons in Blenheim, Ontario last month. Actually, they were just outside the coffee shop but still on its property.

Reverend Eric Revie, the assistant pastor of the Glad Tidings Community Church in Blenheim was with a youth group and his four children in Tim Hortons at the same time.

The Pentecostal assistant pastor complained to the manager that two women in the parking lot of the coffee shop were “making people uncomfortable”. Now first of all, I hardly think that he could claim that what these two women were doing was actually making the customers uncomfortable unless some of them actually told him that they felt uncomfortable after watching what the two women were doing.

The assistant pastor said about the couple; “They were basically having sex. I don’t want my kids to see pornographic images that will burn an impression into them.” I agree with his sentiments if that is what the two women were really doing.

Now I realize that if other adults with the group in the coffee shop felt uncomfortable, they didn’t have to look but if they were concerned about young kids seeing what the older ones were seeing, then I agree that the older ones would be uncomfortable because they would be embarrassed and have to explain to the younger ones what they were seeing.

The manager told the two women that the coffee shop is “family friendly” and threatened to call police if they didn’t immediately leave the property. The women then left the parking lot.

Duckworth says she and Pattenden kissed once or twice while outside drinking coffee with family and friends, but denies they were groping each other. Now let’s presume that that is true.

I can appreciate a couple, be they gay or straight, kissing each other on the cheek when they are greeting each other or parting or even kissing on the lips for a short moment but I don’t really understand why any couple should feel compelled to kiss one another on the lips while sitting down or lying on the grass when in public. Kissing on the lips is sensual and can be and often is part of a sex act and should be done privately if the kiss is going to be an extended kiss.

I realize that it is also a means in which a couple can express their love for one another but why do they have to kiss their partner on the lips in public for an extended period of time? Surely there are places and times when they are alone when they can kiss each other on the lips for as long as they wish.

I often see young people in their teens kissing each other on their lips in public as if their lips are stuck together with Crazy Glue. What are they trying to prove to the rest of us? That they are in love? Who cares if they are in love? There are many ways in which two people can express their love for one another such as walking hand in hand or verbally expressing their love for one another. But expressing their love for one another by kissing one another on the lips in public as if there is no tomorrow, not only looks stupid, it is stupid. It’s OK in private but it is in my opinion, gross in public.

However, that isn’t what Reverend Revie claims he saw. He says that what he saw was the two women straddling each other while sitting on a bench with their tongues locked together and their hands down each other’s pants while groping one another in the area of their crotches and he claims that he saw them groping one another in the area of their breasts.

Now if that was what the women were doing, then I am in complete agreement with the manager of the coffee shop when he ordered the women off the property providing that what he then saw was what the assistant pastor claims he saw. If these women were doing what the assistant pastor claims he saw, the conduct of the two women would have been extremely gross when done in public, especially if done when there are children nearby.

However, if the manager didn’t see the same thing that the assistant pastor claims he saw and he only saw them kissing one another and nothing more, then he had no right to order them off the property.

The two women claim that they were not doing what the assistant pastor claims that they were doing. They said that they only exchanged a peck on their cheeks. The couple claim that they were with their entire family at the time. Someone said, “It’s ridiculous to think they were making out and touching one another like that in front of their parents.”

Now I am getting confused at this point. If they were with their parents, why didn’t their parents speak up when the manager ordered them off the property? Why haven’t we heard what their parents have to say about this incident? Where the two women really with their parents when they were in the parking lot of the coffee shop?

The couple says they now plan to file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

Even if they did that, I doubt that the manager of Tim Hortons in Blenheim would be faulted at what he did. There is no evidence that he has ordered other lesbians or gays out of the coffee shop’s property. His argument at any Human Rights hearing would be that he would order straight couples out of the shop and off the property if they were doing what the assistant pastor claims he saw them doing.

If he didn’t see what the assistant pastor claims he saw, then he is in trouble but not with the Human Rights authority. He could be sued. As a manager or even as an employee of a coffee shop or any other shop, you can’t evict people from the shop if all they did was give a brief kiss to one another.

I suppose it comes down to the degree of the kiss. If a couple are French kissing in the shop for an extended period of time, then it seems to me that such persons should be asked to leave. French kissing is part of a sex act and has no place in a public place unless of course it is done at the rear of a movie theatre when no one else can see them doing it.

I don’t know who to believe. Did the assistant pastor enhance the act he claims he saw or did the women do more than exchange a simple kiss?

Now obviously, the powers to be in Tim Hortons have found themselves in the immediate area of a hornet’s nest. They don’t want to be stung by all those potential customers who are lesbian and gay so they have taken the easy way out to escape the stings of the angry hornets.

Despite the fact that a spokeswoman for Tim Hortons says the couple was asked to leave after they “went beyond public displays of affection” while visiting the coffee shop three weeks ago, Alexandra Cygal, manager of public affairs at Tim Hortons’ head office, said it was not the store’s intention to “offend or target anyone based on their sexual orientation.”

I believe her. The Americans learned the hard way when shop owners in years long past refused to permit blacks into their establishments. The blacks had money also and turning them away surely cost the stores a great deal of money.

The management has apologized to the women and invited them back to their restaurant, added Cygal.

Duckworth said she was not contacted directly by anyone at Tim Hortons and read the apology for the first time on a website. If that is so, then the management made a mistake by not contacting the women directly either by phone or even by a letter. Probably he had no idea who they were or how to contact them and that is why the apology was put on the Web.It was done in the hopes that the couple would see the apology---which they actually did.

Why did the manager apologize? If the women were groping each other in the same way that the assistant pastor claims he saw them doing it, and he saw the same thing, he didn’t have to apologize because he would heave been right to order them off the property. However, if he didn’t see them groping each other, then he was wrong to evict them and should apologize to them.

Duckworth said she’ll never return to Tim Hortons again.

As sure as God made little apples, in a news release October 24th, Chatham-Kent Pride said the actions of management at Tim Hortons in Blenheim demonstrated discrimination. They said, “The language and actions used to justify the dismissal, or removal, of Riley and partner Patricia are unethical, irresponsible, and unconscionable.”

Did they first talk with the manager of the coffee shop and ask him what he saw? If they did and he told them that he saw the couple groping one another, then would they so willingly condemn Tim Horton’s coffee shops?

I can appreciate why various advocacy groups go on the bandwagon to champion a cause but the cause must be legitimate. If it was the policy of Tim Hortons to bar gays and lesbians from entering their coffee shops then the Chatham-Kent Pride people would have the right to do a sit-in somewhere in the vicinity of the coffee shop but quite frankly, that is not Tim Hortons’ policy. I think this group is simply flexing its wings and doing so for the purpose of letting everyone else know that they are still an entity to be reckoned with.

If the accusations of the assistant pastor were accurate, then the gays’ and lesbian’s advocacy’s wings are going to appear to the general public as a bit flaccid. As a bird, it wouldn’t even get off the ground.

No comments: