We’ve never eaten at a Chico’s Taco restaurant, but now we know that should we find ourselves at one, we’ve got bigger things to concern ourselves with than what type of meat they’re using between the tortillas. Namely, getting kicked out for a little PDA. And don’t think the Texas police are going to have your back.
Here’s what happened: Two guys kissed while ordered food at Chico’s in the El Paso area. They were among a group of five gay men, who then sat down after ordering. The restaurant’s security staff asked them to leave, and guards forced them out the door. It’s now 12:30am in the early morning of June 29, and the group calls the police, thinking they’ll be backed up for Chico’s discrimination. No dice: A police officer, arriving an hour later, told the group that it was illegal for two men to kiss in public.
Not only is that wholly untrue, but the one law on the books closest to the cop’s reasoning was struck down in a little U.S. Supreme Court case called Lawrence v. Texas. And also? “That same year, the El Paso City Council approved an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation by businesses open to the public,” reports the El Paso Times.
An assistant manager at Chico’s Tacos declined to comment Wednesday, except to say the owners of the restaurant were out of town and could not be reached. An official with All American International Security, the firm contracted by Chico’s Tacos to supply guards, said one member of the security crew was contacting a lawyer. He would say no more.
El Paso police Detective Carlos Carrillo said a more appropriate charge for what happened at Chico’s Tacos would probably be criminal trespass.
“The security guard received a complaint from some of the customers there,” Carrillo said. “Every business has the right to refuse service. They have the right to refuse service to whoever they don’t want there. That’s their prerogative.”
Briana Stone, a lawyer with the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, disagreed.
She said the city anti-discrimination ordinance protects people on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in public places. Perhaps more troubling, she said, was that the police officer chose not to enforce that ordinance and might have contributed to discrimination.
“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.”
ALSO: “De Leon said he and his friends left the restaurant after an officer threatened to issue a citation for ‘homosexual conduct.’”
Amusingly, Chico’s Wikipedia page has already been updated. Here’s the second sentence: “Recently made famous for forcefully ejecting five gay men because of ‘that faggot stuff’, after two of the men kissed.”