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Gay rights activists stage ‘kiss-in’ protest at suburban Chicago restaurant

Gay rights activists stage ‘kiss-in’ protest at suburban Chicago restaurant

About 100 gay rights activists puckered up to prove a point at a suburban Chicago restaurant Friday night.

“It’s to educate people that homophobia of any kind is unacceptable,” said Frank Nielsen, who organized the “kiss-in” demonstration after being asked by the restaurant’s owner last month to stop kissing his boyfriend, Danny Hankes.

Nielsen (center left) and Hankes at Friday night's "kiss-in" (Chicago Tribune photo).

Nielsen and Hankes said they visited the LaFiesta Azteca Mexican restaurant in Alsip, IL on May 7 to have dinner. But after the couple kissed on the lips, they were approached by the owner and told to stop.

“We ordered drinks and an appetizer plate, and passed the time by laughing and enjoying each other’s company. After sharing a simple and socially acceptable kiss on the lips, just as any homosexual or heterosexual couple might do in any public facility in any Chicagoan suburb, we became victims of blatant and unapologetic homophobic discrimination,” Hankes said in a statement posted on the Gay Liberation Network.

The couple said their rights were violated because they were not treated as a heterosexual couple would have been treated under the same circumstances, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The protestors, men and women, straight and gay, were greeted calmly by both clientele and the restaurant owner, where at least four police cars idled outside. Once inside, the group clinked water glasses, kissed and applauded.

“They have their opinion, and I have mine,” said restaurant owner Jaime Esparza. “I don’t feel like I did anything wrong when I told them to leave.”

Nielsen and Hankes claim the restaurant’s action is a violation of the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance and the 2006 Illinois Human Rights Act, which states that if the establishment allows anyone to kiss they have to allow everyone to kiss. If they want to have a no kissing rule, they would have to post it and enforce it equally.

By protesting, the couple said they hoped to expose discrimination in the conservative south suburb.

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