Gay Men Kissing Ousted From Chico’s Tacos: Cops Threaten “Homosexual Conduct” Citation

July 10, 2009

(ChattahBox)—The Chico’s Tacos restaurant chain in El Paso Texas doesn’t like homosexuals eating their fast-food tacos and the police agree reasoning, that a business can refuse service to anyone it wants, despite the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

When two men briefly kissed at the popular taco chain, bigotry, homophobia and ignorance of the law came out in full force, beginning with the security guards’ hurling anti-gay slurs at the men and ending with the El Paso Police ordering the men to leave the restaurant or face a “homosexual conduct” citation.

The incident has garnered national attention and the taco chain faces a growing movement by gay rights activists to boycott the restaurant, with protests planned at the restaurant’s multiple El Paso locations.

The incident began on June 29, when a group of five gay men entered Chico’s Tacos in Montwood, with two of the men briefly kissing while placing their order. After sitting down, the guards ordered the men to leave saying, they didn’t allow “that faggot stuff” in the restaurant.

The situation went downhill from there, as the men refused to leave and called the police for help. While waiting for the police to arrive, the guards continued with their anti-gay slurs against the men.

When the police arrived, one officer told the men that it was illegal for two men or two women to kiss in public and they could be cited for “homosexual conduct”

There is just one problem with the El Paso Police Department’s understanding of the law, they are six years behind the times; the U.S. Supreme Court ruled criminalizing homosexual conduct as unconstitutional in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas.

That same year, the El Paso City Council approved an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation by businesses open to the public.

The El Paso Police also are ignorant of their city’s sexual orientation ordinance. “Every business has the right to refuse service. They have the right to refuse service to whomever they don’t want there. That’s their prerogative,” said El Paso police Detective Carlos Carrillo.

Lisa Graybill, legal director for the ACLU of Texas is denouncing the Ela Paso police department for its failure to uphold the law and condoning illegal discrimination. “If a straight couple wouldn’t have gotten kicked out for it,” she said, “a gay couple shouldn’t,” said Graybill.

Meanwhile, Chico’s Tacos owner Bernie Mora, who was out of town during the incident, said “We are here to sell tacos, not to offend anyone.”

Still, gay rights activists are not convinced. The incident at Chico’s beginning with the homophobic security guards and ignorant police officers, point to a larger discrimination problem in the community.



24 Responses to “Gay Men Kissing Ousted From Chico’s Tacos: Cops Threaten “Homosexual Conduct” Citation”

  1. Glenn Humphries on July 10th, 2009 10:22 am

    I’m no homophobe – “-phobe” is a suffix meaning “fear of” and gay men don’t scare me – BUT seeing them kiss repulses me to my core – repulsion does not equal either fear or hate. Anyway – a peck on the cheek in public is one thing – mining for tonsils (even if you’re straight) in front of children and family is entirely another. Sure, we’re a country of freedoms – but let’s not forget that one man’s freedom is no better than any other man’s freedom: his freedom to kiss as he wishes certainly cannot over-ride my freedom not to have to see it in public – gay or straight. This is not a discrimination issue – its an issue of society and morality. I do actually have one recourse I always follow: I never give more business to an establishment that openly allows such behavior. If no one will stand up for decent public behavior, then those who do care can just spend their hard-earned money elsewhere.

  2. Patrick in Texas on July 10th, 2009 10:51 am

    To: Glenn Humphries

    You obviously don’t understand the meaning of homophobia. Here is what the Merrian Webster dictionary has to say about homophobia.

    Homophobia: irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals

    According to this definition you certainly are homophobic. Fortunately, the law is on the side of these gay folks. It must make you so proud to be a bigot. LOL!

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  4. Glenn Humphries on July 10th, 2009 12:06 pm

    To Patrick in Texas

    I have no fear of gay persons. I have gay friends and work with gay men and women on occasion. They do not make a public spectacle of their gayness just as I do not make a public spectacle of my straightness. You confuse usage with definition. Webster is reporting popular usage rather than base meaning. If the majority of English speakers began using the word “vehicle” as if it meant “any edible substance” that’s how Webster would define it. As far as true MEANING is concerned, here is the etymology of phobia:

    1786, “fear, horror, aversion,” Mod.L., abstracted from compounds in -phobia, from Gk. -phobia, from phobos “fear,” originally “flight” (still the only sense in Homer), but it became the common word for “fear” via the notion of “panic, fright” (cf. phobein “put to flight, frighten”), from PIE base *bhegw- “to run” (cf. Lith. begu “to flee,” O.C.S. begu “flight,” bezati “to flee, run,” O.N. bekkr “a stream”). Psychological sense attested by 1895; phobic (adj.) is from 1897.

    You may use words as you like. I, on the other hand my use them as I see fit also, and when I see the word “homophobe” it means to me a person with a phobia for homosexuality, and this phobia does not apply to me regardless of how you choose to use the word yourself.

    As far as bigotry goes, you don’t know enough about me to consider using that term.

  5. Patrick in Texas on July 10th, 2009 12:29 pm

    To Glen Humphries:

    You say it is not a discrimination issue, yet according to the laws of El Paso it is very clearly an issue of discrimination. Would a straight couple have been kicked out for a kiss? That is the question that should be asked. You can’t have one set of rules for straight folks and another for gay folks. That is clearly discrimination. I will stick with Merrian Websters defenition of homophobia.

  6. dan on July 10th, 2009 12:32 pm

    The article above sensationalizes the incident.

    One of the the men was interviewed by KVIA and does not claim that the guards said “faggot stuff” but said “gay stuff”. They were asked to stop, they refused, and were then asked to leave. A police spokesman says that a rookie officer was incorrect about the law and did not handle the situation properly.

    It was brave for those men to carry on as Chicos past midnight is usually populated by tattooed cholos.

    KVIA video:

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  8. Glenn Humphries on July 10th, 2009 1:14 pm

    To Patric in Texas:

    Okay, so now you agree with me that it would be discrimination not to treat straight couples similarly if and when engaged in similar activity. I applaud you and completely agree that in that case it WOULD be discrimination for whichever group was made to stop. I happen to believe that EVERYONE should keep such behavior private.
    And yes, it is human nature to find ways to justify one’s beliefs as right regardless of the veracity of such rightness, so please do stick with your own definition and allow me the right to stick with my own.
    Feel free to enjoy your life as YOU see fit – and feel certain that I’m doing the same.
    Have a great life… I’m outta here.

  9. sms on July 10th, 2009 3:20 pm

    another thing that most people fail to mention is that most patrons who often visit chico’s tacos come from a night of drinking including the straight couple who are all over each other most of the time because they’re sloshed, and I’ve never seen any guard tell them to settled down at any time that I have visited that restaurant, and for those who claim that its bad for the kids. I wasn’t aware that your family frequented a restaurant at 12:30 AM? Odd?

  10. Tom L on July 10th, 2009 3:40 pm

    They are there to sell tacos…unless you’re a f*g, in which case they are there to escort you off the premesis and charge you with a crime. I make it a point to stay out of Texas as much as I can, and that philosophy is reinforced over and over by events like this one.

  11. Jon Mills on July 10th, 2009 4:25 pm

    Stay out of Texas (as homophobic a state as it gets). Boycott Chico’s and encourage others to as well. Hit em where it hurts in the pocket book.

  12. Rene Rios on July 12th, 2009 2:05 pm

    clear case of discrimination. that criminal trespass bit is ridiculous. the police are clearly using that as an excuse to discriminate against homosexuals.

  13. Rion J on July 13th, 2009 12:55 am

    No question about it, this is discrimination. Its flat out cruel that a scene like that would be made just because two men showed their affection to one another. Homophobia has nothing to do with this, its just ignorance. Is there really a reason to kiss if not to show PUBLICLY that they love each other? Don’t treat sexual preferences like they are some disease, because it’s not. I think that anyone who disagrees with this is ignorant and needs to grow up. Oh and if anyone who reads this fears homosexuality because they think they are going to get screwed up the butt, no idiot would be willing to do that without consent, and both men and women have pleasure nerves inside their anus that make it feel good.

  14. Tim on July 13th, 2009 10:12 am

    Another reason to hate Texas and all the redneck a-holes in it. Douches.

  15. Mary on July 14th, 2009 11:01 am

    It is no surprise to me that the El Paso Police Department has no knowledge of the applicable law. I have had the unfortunate opportunity to deal with the EPPD on a regular basis in a previous job, and time and again the officers had no idea what the law was nor what they were to supposed to do. EPPD officers are also never apologetic for their lack of knowledge. They repeatedly try to make the civilian feel as if they are in the wrong. Perhaps law enforcement personnel should be required to have some form of legal education so they can stop making an ass out of themselves!

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  18. Rob Moore on September 28th, 2009 11:00 pm

    I just heard about this two months later. My only thought was, “no one should be shocked that the most reactionary part of a state that gave us the likes of George W. Bush is homophobic and bigoted”. I would have been shocked to read that two gay men kissed in a restaurant in El Paso and no one cared.

  19. Michael Bliss on December 28th, 2009 1:16 pm

    How can someone label two men or two women as homosexual for the simple act of kissing? There are many cultures where you kiss someone when you first meet, etc. This act does not make or label someone a homosexual. Sometimes I have to just throw up my hands at the ignorance in the US.

  20. alonso on July 15th, 2010 11:46 pm

    wow i kind of use to be proud of living in el paso because it was more tolerant than other parts of texas but this is sick and embarasing. so im bocotting this crappy food

  21. Bill on August 26th, 2010 4:41 pm

    These men should make police department apoligize and sue them!

  22. Cecilia Burrola on November 5th, 2010 2:03 pm

    “KISS” Keep it simple stupid…don’t do in public, what you wouldn’t do in your mother’s face. it’s all about respect.

  23. norma deering on November 15th, 2010 3:38 am

    Today, about 11:45 pm about 5 of our male gay friends and us two ladies decidedn to go and have some Chico’s Tacos at the alameda restaurant near the thomason hospital.
    Four our friends had to leave and we kissed and hugged them goodbye ( male to female kissess) we where left with one of our male friend.
    we ordered our meal while we ate our food the staff and security officer where staring us down.
    My female companion had to ask one of the older women if She was hungry? Why they were starring at us? To which she answer “…no no aca estoy yo lellendo la revista de los bebes…” than they all turn away and gaves their backs but continued to talk among themselves and one of the younger women went to the sign posted : and removed it and showed it to the an old man that was there as security and stated “…tenemos el derecho de negarles servicios a esa jente, si queremos” While holding the sign which says “we have the right to refuse service to any one.”
    At that point the antagonism, harassment and discrimination became obvious as we where the only ones they had been starring down at.
    My friend did get up in a polite manner and asked them what was the reason for their staring us down and talking about the right to refuse service while continued demining stares. To this the manager replyed that they were looking for a man that was banned to come in into the buisness; however the security man and the staff had been very calm through out this ordeal and by logic it is easy to see that they where staring us down and intimidating us as none of the staff nor the security activelly at any time looked for this (unwelcomed man) .
    In short Gay man and Gay continue to be unwelcomed and descriminated .
    With this said if anyone knows of the case against the couple that kissed and initially uncoverred these discriminatory and acts of hatred please let us know who to contact within the Civil liverties Union as this problem presist.
    They hate Homosexuals there is no question I have the proof.

  24. Cecilia Burrola on November 29th, 2010 3:31 pm

    Heard of Rodney King…all on tape. All cellphones have cameras, discrimination is illegal. Although hard to prove, but not impossible. Be truthful, not hateful towards the ignorant.

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