PHOENIX -- It’s the kiss that created a controversy and it happened in downtown Phoenix at the District American Kitchen and Wine Bar inside the Sheraton hotel.
Kenyata White and Aeimee Diaz were celebrating 2 years of being in one another's life Sunday night when they were asked to leave shortly after sharing a kiss.
“We were just doing anything any normal couple would do on their anniversary we were hugging and talking and I gave her a kiss and we just continued talking,” said White.
“It hadn't even been a minute after we spoke and the manager came up to us and said we should get a room. That our behavior was inappropriate and we should leave the establishment.”
Neither woman could believe their ears especially since they've always had fun at the Sheraton in the past. But now White was in tears and Diaz wanted answers.
She says the manager explained he was in a tough spot.
“Here are these men who are at this table, 6-8 of them, and they didn't like what they are seeing,” said Diaz. “I mean is it really inappropriate to hold someone's hand or to show expressions of love?”
White voiced her frustration on her Facebook page saying, “Just got asked to leave the District in downtown phoenix for giving my lady a hug and kiss on our anniversary. We met there....I am very upset...”
Immediately she had the support of dozens and a day later the District Kitchen’s Facebook page was also flooded with comments.
Tuesday night the restaurant posted this, “At District American Kitchen & Wine Bar, we embrace diversity and are proud supporters of the LGBT community. We are taking this incident very seriously. We have cultivated strong relationships with organizations dedicated to diversity. We have supported and we will continue to support many events that are specific to gay, lesbian and allied individuals. Additionally, we take pride in having a very diverse workplace - a workplace that offers benefits for domestic partners. Our restaurant is open for all to enjoy and we sincerely regret that this incident took place.”
The restaurant and Sheraton managers are looking into the incident and so is Equality Arizona, hoping many can learn from this.
“This manager's response was to ask 2 patrons to leave when what he should have done is let those customers know district kitchen is proud to serve the entire community,” said Nick Ray, Executive Director of Equality Arizona.
“What is needed is diversity training and for that manager and staff to feel they’ve been trained well enough not only to do what's right in this situation but also know if I do what's right my boss will have my back.”
Both White and Diaz have since met with Sheraton managers.
The hotel's general manager, Leo Percopo, released this statement:
“We had the opportunity to meet with the couple late this afternoon to listen to their story and better understand their view and how they felt. We had a collaborative conversation and both parties are taking this incident seriously. Together, we have identified opportunities in which both parties can unite and work together to foster diversity awareness. We embrace diversity and are proud supporters of organizations and events that are specific to diversity, gay, lesbian, and allied individuals. Again, we regret this incident occurred.”
White just hopes, “this is now an opportunity to help awaken some people.”