A young, gay couple was kicked out of a California mall last Saturday for holding hands and kissing. Jose Guzman, 24, and his boyfriend Daniel Chesmore, 21, were in the Westfield Galleria in Roseville, California for just two minutes before they were asked to leave by a security guard, according to Chesmore.
"We were just holding hands and kissing each other on the cheek," Daniel Chesmore told the Daily News. "It was friendly and playful. There was nothing sexual about it."
The guard reportedly told the couple that their behavior was inappropriate because there were children nearby. At that point, Chesmore began to record the incident. He later played the recording for Sacramento's Fox 40:
"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."
Chesmore denied that he and Guzman had kissed that many times, saying it was impossible considering how long they'd be in the mall. He also expressed outrage that the guard said he was a threat to children, noting that both he and Guzman work as tutors at an elementary school.
"I feel isolated," Chesmore explained. "I feel I'm being discriminated against because of my sexual orientation. For some reason I am some threat to children…but I work with children."
Fox 40 asked Galleria General Manager Eddie Ollman for comment. He declined to go on camera, but issued a statement, saying, "Persons that violate the Code of Conduct are asked to leave the property."
The news station couldn't find anything in the mall's code of conduct that mentions public display of affection, and reporters from the station later went "undercover" at the mall, where they saw "dozens of straight couples sitting inside of the Galleria, holding hands and smooching, right out in the open."
After an outpouring of support for the couple online, the mall posted a second statement to their Facebook wall, saying they "celebrate the diversity" of their community and showing support of a "kiss in" at the mall scheduled for this Saturday.