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Texas cities grapple with anti-gay bias among police

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rainbow_lounge_protest.jpgJust weeks after a police raid on a gay club in one Texas city left a patron with life-threatening brain injuries, another Texas city is embroiled in controversy after gay men were kicked out of a restaurant -- and local police took the restaurant's side.

In the early morning hours of June 29, Carlos Diaz de Leon called El Paso police to report that he and a group of friends had been ordered out of Chico's Tacos by security guards because two the men in the group had kissed, the El  Paso Times reports:

De Leon quoted one of the guards as saying he didn't allow "that faggot stuff" in the restaurant.

The men refused to leave and called police for help. In the meantime, the guards -- employees of All American International Security of El Paso -- allegedly directed other anti-gay slurs toward them. When two officers arrived about an hour later, one of them told the group that it was illegal for two men or two women to kiss in public and that they could be cited for "homosexual conduct" under law.

But the officer was wrong. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law he was referring to unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 -- the same year the El Paso City Council passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation by businesses open to the public.

Briana Stone, an attorney with the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, told the paper that she found it troubling that a police officer chose not to enforce the city's ordinance:

"This is such a blatant refusal to uphold the law on account of discrimination," she said. "The result is devastating. The Police Department is allowing that and even participating in it by refusing to enforce an anti-discrimination ordinance, which is what their job is."

But El Paso Police Detective Carlos Carrillo defended the officers actions, telling the paper that every business has "the right to refuse service to whoever they don't want there."

At a meeting yesterday, members of El Paso City Council told Police Chief Greg Allen that they were upset with the conduct of his officers. Allen released a statement acknowledging that his officers were wrong about the law and that failure to stay abreast of the law would result in "appropriate discipline." Also yesterday, Diaz de Leon submitted a formal complaint to the police department's Internal Affairs Division.

Meanwhile, protests are scheduled to continue for the third consecutive weekend in Fort Worth, Texas over a June 28 police raid on a gay bar during a Stonewall commemoration that left one man with serious head injuries, the Dallas Voice reports. Seven officers from the Fort Worth Police Department and two agents from the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission clashed with patrons of the Rainbow Lounge during the incident, which ended in the arrests of seven people and the hospitalization of patron Chad Gibson for brain injuries.

Witnesses have said Gibson, who was released from the hospital last Saturday, had his head slammed into a door by officers. He was reportedly in the custody of the ABC agents at the time the injury occurred.

The police department and Alcoholic Beverage Commission are conducting internal investigations and have called on witnesses to step forward with their stories. Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief asked the U.S. Attorney General's Office to review the police department's findings.

The incident at the Rainbow Lounge has also led to the formation of a group called Fairness Fort Worth, which aims to bring together a coalition of community, civic and government leads to prevent such incidents in the future, according the Dallas Voice.

As Facing South reported earlier this year, violence against gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender people often goes
unreported to the police. Unfortunately, incidents like these in El Paso and Fort Worth do nothing to encourage crime victims to step forward.

(Photo of a pro-gay protest outside Fort Worth's Rainbow Lounge is from the Facebook group Rainbow Lounge Raid.)

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re: Texas cities grapple with anti-gay bias among police

Morality indeed, Heteros. Morality, indeed.

re: Texas cities grapple with anti-gay bias among police

These stories are something we normally read about in oppressed, third world countries run by religious fanatics. Oh, wait, that's the U.S. Nevermind.

re: Texas cities grapple with anti-gay bias among police

So did El Paso fine the restaurant yet?

re: Texas cities grapple with anti-gay bias among police

I STILL CANNOT BELIEVE HOW IT IS THE 21ST CENTURY, AND YET WE AS "HUMAN BEINGS" ARE STILL BEING TREATED AS LESS THAN AN ABUSED ANIMAL. WHAT DOES IT MATTER TO THOSE HOMOPHOBIC, CLOSE MINDED JERKS WHO THE HECK WE MARRY, OR CHOSE TO BE WITH. IM TIRED OF THESE IDIOTS CALLING IT A RELIGOUS BELIEFE, OR A MENTAL DISORDER. WHEN IN FACT THAT YOU ARE CHOSING TO FALL IN LOVE, YOUR HEART PROVIDES THOSE FEELINGS. NOT A BIBLE, NOR A MENTAL DISORDER. YOU ARE JUST LOVING WHOM YOU FEEL THE ATTRACTION TO. WE ARE SUPPOSE TO BE LIVING HERE IN AMERICA WHERE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE LIVING IN FREEDOM. YET IT FEELS AS THOUGH WE ARE BEING FORCED TO NOT LIVE THE WAY WE CHOSE, OR LOVE THE WAY WE CHOSE TO LOVE. ITS SICKENING TO SEE THAT THE LAW IS TOO BUISY TRYING TO STOP LGBT'S FROM GETTING MARRIED, ADOPTING A CHILD, OR EVEN FOSTERING A CHILD. BUT YET EVERY DAY IN THE NEWS WE ARE SEEING "STRAIGHT" PEOPLE KILLING, MOLESTING, OR NEGLECTING THEIR OWN CHILDREN? I HAVE TO SEE IN THE NEWS OF A GAY COUPLE WHO HAS COMMITED ANY OF THOSE CRIMES? IS THE LAWS IN THIS STATE AS WELL MANY OTHER STATES THAT IGNORANT, AND BLIND? WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO TAKE FOR THE CLOSE MINDED POLITICIANS, TO SEE THAT WHAT LIFESTYLE WE CHOSE TO HAVE DOES NOT MAKE US ANY LESS OF A HUMAN BEING? WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR MUCH, BUT JUST ASKING FOR EQUALITY, AND HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS AS EVERYONE ELSE? WHY ARE WE ASKED TO PAY FOR TAXES AND SO FORTH LIKE EVERYONE ELSE? BUT YET WHEN IT COMES TO WANTING TO HAVE YOUR LIFE PARTNER IN YOUR MEDICAL INSURANCE, OR WANTING TO ADOPT A CHILD, OR MUCH LESS MARRY THE ONE YOU HAVE LOVED FOR MANY YEARS. WE ARE TAKEN AWAY THOSE RIGHTS? ALL I KNOW IS THAT WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN, AND WE WILL KEEP FIGHTING TILL THAT DAY COMES!

re: Texas cities grapple with anti-gay bias among police

The policeman was completely justified in using "reasonable force" to stop the second female from attacking him while he was attempting to arrest the 1st woman. The young teen was simply resisting the lawful actions of the policeman.

re: Texas cities grapple with anti-gay bias among police

If you are displeased with our country perhaps you should consider relocating to a place without a police force