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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

IHOP, home of the 'Rooty-Tooty Fresh 'n Fruity,' wants diners who are less 'fruity'

"You must remmember this/a kiss is just a kiss ..." Or so sang Dooley Wilson as the piano-playing Sam in "Casablanca." That was back in 1942. Sixty-five years later, a kiss is just a kiss only if it's involves a couple of the opposite sex.

If you're talking, say, girl-on-girl action, kissing can get you kicked out of the International House of Pancakes. At least it can in Grandview, a run-down, backwards, pit of a town just south of Kansas City where they apparently like their pancakes hot and their same-sex smooches not at all.

Last week, so the story goes as reported by one of the local TV stations, a small group of lesbians gathered at the Grandview IHOP - as they had been doing on Friday evenings for years. (I'll leave aside any snarky comments about why any gay or lesbian would actually want to eat at an IHOP.) One of the women arrived late and when she came to the table, she kissed her partner. That when the trouble began. According to news reports from FOX4 (yes, I said FOX) the only news outlet to actually cover the story:

The women said they met up at IHOP Friday night around dinner time. When one of the women's partners showed up, they greeted each other with a kiss. They said there was another kiss on the cheek later, but they said it was nothing outrageous. The restaurant's general manager said he got a complaint and asked the women to leave.

The women said they've been going to the IHOP off 71 Highway in Grandview for years and they've never had a problem until Friday.

"We were being disruptive by having a common kiss like any normal straight couple would have," Blair Funk said.

"He said it's just that we've had complaints and it's unacceptable and as a family restaurant we don't accept that and don't accept you and she said maybe we should go," Jackie Smith said. "He said I'm going to have to ask you to leave and not return."

The general manager told me he had a complaint because one of the couples french kissed and were touching each other. He said he told them this is a family restaurant and their behavior was unacceptable. Blair said she and her girlfriend weren't doing anything outrageous

"My significant other had her arm around me on the back of the bench or whatever and we did kiss and then I maybe kissed on the cheek but it was nothing too intense," Funk said.

"And it was after we left, he flat out asked us to leave because we were gay," Smith said.

Smith wrote a letter to IHOP's corporate office and got an email response Tuesday that said, "we're sorry to learn about the difficulties you encountered at this location."

It's not hard to imagine some Grandview diners being scandalized by actually seeing a lesbian liplock up close. Grandview, by the way, is the home for the delusional "ex-gay" snake-oil salesman Andrew Comiskey. No wonder he feels so at home there. No doubt there's lots of pressure exerted to make sure IHOP remains a bastion of family values ... just as long as the families are made up of a heterosexual couple of their statistical 2.3 children.

You can be sure that a hetero version of the same display of affection would have passed without notice.

While I've never been to the Grandview IHOP, I have been to other IHOPs, including another suburban one on Shawnee Mission Parkway. I can recall seeing two straight couples sharing a booth in which one of the teen couples was engaged in some serious making out. They weren't just pecking each other on the cheek. They were playing full-on tonsil hockey. And yet no one complained to the manager.

It makes me wonder what would happen if I would have called the manager over and told her, "Those kids over there with their tongues down each others' throats are offending my sensibilities. Please ask them to leave."

It would make an interesting experiment to conduct if I ever go to IHOP again. But I seriously doubt if I will; at least not until they issue an apology to the group of lesbians they kicked out and adopt a policy that they will not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

(If anyone else is moved to contact IHOP and express their opinion about how IHOP treats its LGBT customers, the company's contact information can be found here.)