SEATTLE — A lesbian couple attending a Mariners game last week said they were told to stop being affectionate after engaging in what they said were basic displays of public affection.
Calista Nabors and Giuliana Garcia were approached by an usher who told them someone had complained about them "being affectionate" in the "family friendly environment." The usher claimed their affection was against the ballpark's code of conduct which bans "displays of affection not appropriate in a public, family setting."
The couple told Outsports that when they went to guest services they received an immediate apology. Garcia filed a complaint and posted it on Instagram.
On Monday they received a voicemail from Amy Swisher, a senior manager of guest experience, who apologized, saying hugging and embracing was “totally fine” and she was “very, very sorry” about the incident.
She then invited them to a future game.
But on Tuesday, Mariners spokesperson Rebecca Hale said there was more to the story.
Hale claimed that the usher received two complaints – and one of them was from a Safeco Field staff member who said the couple was “making out” and should be stopped.
Hale said it was protocol to reach out to anyone who files a complaint. Here's a Mariners statement released to KIRO 7 News in full:
It is unfortunate the guests feel they were singled out for their sexual orientation. The Mariners take all allegations of discrimination seriously and did an internal review of the matter.
The Safeco Field Code of Conduct is intended to promote an atmosphere at the ballpark where everyone feels safe and welcome. We train our staff members to focus on behavior, not the individual, and to use their best judgment when addressing situations like public displays of affection.
After reviewing the incident and the actions of all involved, we believe our staff acted on the behavior they observed and not the orientation of the couple.
However, this incident presents us with an opportunity to ask ourselves how we could have handled the situation better; how we approach our guests and the way we communicate to them the actions we take. Training our staff is an ongoing process and we intend to use the lessons learned here to continue to educate all our staff on the best way to do their jobs while honoring the diversity of our community.
Garcia said the accusations of her making out with Nabors was untrue, that it was only a quick kiss and that they would never “make out” in public.
In 2008, another lesbian couple was accused by the team of “making out,” despite the couple saying they only shared a quick kiss.
A week after the incident and a week before the Mariners’ first LGBT Night at Safeco Field, the club apologized.
"The entire Seattle Mariners organization wants to assure Seattle's LGBTQ community that we are proud to be hosting our first official Pride Night at Safeco Field and we are looking forward to what should be a fun night at the ballpark.
However, we know that this event has been overshadowed by an incident last weekend that has caused members of the LGBTQ community to question whether you are welcome at Safeco Field. For that we apologize. We are taking this opportunity to ask ourselves how we could have handled the situation differently; how we can use this to learn, change, grow and do better.
The Mariners organization is proud of our longstanding commitment to inclusion. We value the diversity of our community and our fan base. Our goal is to create an atmosphere at Safeco Field that is respectful and welcoming to all persons regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
We are excited about partnering with the Greater Seattle Business Association on what should be a great night at Safeco Field. However, we know that our commitment to fairness and diversity is about more than just one night and we look forward to continuing to deepen our connection to GSBA and our fans in the LGBTQ community.
We are honored that Billy Bean, Major League Baseball's "Ambassador of Inclusion," is coming to Seattle to be part of our Pride Night celebration. We hope that you will join us on August 19 for what should be a special night at Safeco Field."
Cox Media Group