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City disciplines two workers for ejecting gay couple from pool

Sunday, June 19, 2011
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The City of Hazard, Ky., has suspended an employee for ejecting two gay men from a public recreational facility citing the Bible as his reason for doing so.

The suspended city employee Kim Haynes told investigators that the two men were engaged in an excessive display of affection June 10, and that he would have told any other couple to leave had he seen similar behavior.

Haynes, however, also acknowledged he said “We don’t tolerate that kind of activity around here” and cited the Bible in an argument with Laura Quillen, a member of the social service group Mending Hearts, which was overseeing the group.

The gay men, who were not identified, had been swimming at the Hazard Pavilion with a group from Mending Hearts, which provides care to people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

In addition to the five-day suspension without pay, Haynes was ordered to undergo “sensitivity training.”

The city has also ordered a sign be posted stating all official rules and prohibiting excessive public displays of affection, be it same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

Jordan Palmer, president and co-founder of the Kentucky Equality Federation, which organized a protest outside the Hazard Pavilion on Saturday, said the city’s actions are “a step in the right direction,” but suspending Haynes is “still not sufficient for us.”

“He’s got to be moved to another area of government,” Palmer said.

The manager of the Hazard Pavilion, Charlotte Pearlman, also was reprimanded for unbecoming conduct for using “inappropriate and obscene language” when declining comment to a television news crew, the city said.

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