Museum visitors claim they were turned away because security guard thought they were gay

11:32 AM, Feb 22, 2011   |    comments
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(NBC) -- A trip to a northern Kentucky museum didn't go as planned for a Louisville man and his friends.

They said they were denied entry to an event at the Creation Museum because a security guard thought they were gay.

Two of the people involved are claiming discrimination.

This all happened at the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky.

A heterosexual Louisville man said he felt discriminated against after he said a staff member refused him entry into a "date night" event, because it was assumed that he and a friend were a gay couple.

Officials with the Creation Museum say they did nothing wrong.

Jonathan Meador, Brandon Absher and their friend said the trouble began on February 11th at a "date night" event at the Creation Museum, when Absher told a security guard who his "date" was.

"We said: 'his name is Joe and he's coming in a hybrid car and he'll be here soon,'" Absher recalled.

Meador says there was a misunderstanding and that no one in the group is gay.

"They called us back and said you can't come in," Absher said. "Jonathan and Shanna were allowed in but I was not allowed to enter."

Absher says he was denied entry because the door person thought he was gay.

Mark Looy, Communications Director for the Creation Museum, denies there was discrimination involved, saying that everyone is welcome.

"These people were simply turned away because they had alerted us in January that they intended to act in a flamboyant manner and when we figured out who these people were, we did not allow them to come to a dinner event and disrupt 96 other guests from enjoying their meal," Looy said.

Looy points to an online blog post allegedly belonging to Absher's "date."

On Jan. 13, the author writes about the event, saying: "Let's get to work doing a fundraiser so we can send the most flamboyantly gay couple imaginable to this dinner. I consider that our patriotic duty."

"We had been alerted to a posting on January 13 that someone intended to come to the event and disrupt it - to be 'flamboyantly gay' - is how it was termed," Looy said. "When we found out who these people were, we did not welcome them to the dinner event because of their clear intent to be disruptive."

Chris Hartman, Director of the Fairness Campaign, said the Creation Museum did nothing illegal.

"There are no federal or state laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of someone's perceived orientation or gender identity. So if someone believes you to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, they have every legal right to deny you a public accommodation, like a museum visit, or restaurant visit or bus ride." Hartman said.

Hartman says there is a larger problem at hand: "that there is no protection against discrimination in the state of Kentucky and there needs to be."

The group says they are unsure if they will return to the museum.

They are also trying to get a $71 refund of Absher and his friend's unused tickets.

Looy says no refunds will be granted.

Looy also says the museum welcomes the group to return, as long as they "don't make a disturbance."

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