A lesbian couple was ordered to leave a Kentucky park while taking maternity photos on the park's grounds, and the women believe they were ousted because they are gay.
Cheri Chenault and Destiny Keith decided to go to E.C. Million Memorial Park in Richmond, Ky., last weekend to take photos ahead of the birth of their baby boy, whom they're expecting on Sept. 29, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
The park served as the backdrop for the photos, which were being taken by local photographer Jessica Miller-Poole, who owns 13 Wishes Photography. The photos were taken in a privately-owned section of the park that is open to the public.
After the couple kissed for a photo, a park gatekeeper went over to the group, which consisted of Chenault, Keith, Miller-Poole and her husband, and told them they had to leave the park grounds because they were being inappropriate.
The photographer's husband approached the gatekeeper to ask why he wanted them out.
“He talked to the man and said that if it was because they were two women, that he wanted to know,” Miller-Poole told the Richmond Register. “The man said, ‘Those type of people were not welcomed there,’” she said. “My husband ended up getting very angry and had to walk away.”
Miller-Poole went on to say she was shocked and upset by the gatekeeper's actions.
“I never understood why people make such a big deal about being treated differently until I was actually in the middle of it and witnessed it firsthand," Miller-Poole told the Register. "It really bothered me and upset me to witness someone be so cruel.”
Although gays are protected under the Kentucky Hate-Crime Law, they are not protected under the Kentucky Non-Discrimination Law.
Discrimination against gays in Kentucky has garnered national attention as of late.
On April 4, 2011, Kevin Pennington was kidnapped and assaulted in the remote hills of southeastern Kentucky by two cousins who allegedly targeted him because he is gay. The two were charged this April with committing a hate crime in violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
And in June of last year, a gay couple with developmental and intellectual disabilities, was ejected from the Pavilion pool in Hazard, Ky. The couple was asked to leave the swimming pool by a maintenance worker, who said, "We own this place and can tell you to leave if we want to," according to the Advocate.
Chenault and Keith's story has revived the call to action for gay rights in Kentucky, the Herald-Leader reports.
"This young couple's plight is a perfect elucidation of the need for a local fairness ordinance in Richmond," Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, said in a news release quoted by the paper. "In truth, we need an anti-discrimination (law) that will cover the whole commonwealth, but until that law passes, local fairness ordinances in Richmond, Berea and other cities around the state are necessary."