Local/State

Lesbians told to leave shopping center

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A human rights group says it is looking into how a lesbian couple claimed it was treated while at Cameron Village in Raleigh.

The women say a security guard approached them after they had lunch Wednesday and forced them to leave the property.

"We just had lunch at the Flying Biscuit," Caitlin Breedlove said. "We were just walking around relaxing, like most couples do."

Breedlove says she and her girlfriend then decided to sit on a nearby bench.

"We had our arm around each other, kissed each other on the cheek," she said.

That's when she says a York Properties security guard approached them, became hostile and asked them to leave.

"And at that point, we asked, 'Would that be the same if it was a man or a woman?' Because we see a lot of men and women walking around, holding hands being affectionate and she said, 'No.'" Breedlove said. "It's because you're same sex, and it's not appropriate."

Breedlove says a security supervisor also asked them to leave.

"And as we got up to leave, we took each other's hands again and he said to us, 'See, you want it to be public, you want people to see,'" Breedlove said.

Breedlove is a co-director of an organization that advocates for minorities, immigrants and gay rights, but she says this wasn't a publicity stunt.

"People have raised this question before, and you know it's definitely ironic in a way that I'm a gay rights activist," she said. "But in a way, that's why we wanted to do something."

She says she wants anti-discrimination training for York Security teams and plans to come back to the area on Sunday with others, for what she calls an old school-peaceful demonstration.

"We want to be open and show young people that as adults, we're leading lives," Breedlove said. "We have decent lives, we're good people."

ABC11 Eyewitness News reached out to York Properties for a comment, and on Friday, they released a statement, saying:

"Cameron Village is a family friendly shopping center that welcomes the entire community. We sincerely regret Wednesday's events, and have attempted to contact Ms. Breedlove and invite her to meet with us."

"The officers' actions do not reflect the views of Cameron Village and York Properties. The officer involved was immediately suspended. The supervising officer and all security officers will receive additional sensitivity training."

"Cameron Village is committed to maintaining an open and welcoming environment for everyone."

Breedlove says the American Civil Liberties Union is now looking into the couple's claims.

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