The Kiss Heard 'Round the World

By Eric Eagan

Originally published on Advocate.com August 14 2009 12:00 AM ET

After reading about recent crackdowns by local law enforcement across the country on kissing same-sex couples, blogger David Badash ( TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com ) was fed up.

"I just kind of said, 'This is crazy. It's not against the law to kiss your partner. It doesn't matter what gender they are,'" he said.

So Badash, 47, who lives in New York City, decided it was time for LGBT people and straight allies to respond. Inspired by similar, smaller-scale demonstrations earlier this year, Badash decided to organize the Great Nationwide Kiss-In. Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern, in over 50 cities across the country, same-sex (and opposite-sex) couples will gather to lock lips in order to make the world a little safer for gay PDA.

"We just want people to feel comfortable to see two people who love each other kiss," Badash said.

Sadly, that's easier said than done.

For all the progress LGBT people have made since Stonewall, same-sex affection is still not accepted in most places in America. Six years after Lawrence v. Texas , some people (cops and security guards included) think gay kissing is illegal, and an innocent show of affection is more likely to be called a "lewd act" when it is directed toward someone of the same sex.

This year has felt especially regressive. In late December in San Antonio, Texas, security officers threw two 22-year-old women out of a mall when one gave the other a "kiss on the cheek." They were arrested for trespassing when they returned to shop.

In June, this time in El Paso, two men were told to leave a taco restaurant after they kissed while waiting to place their order. When the men called the police to protect them, an officer told them they could be arrested for "homosexual conduct." Not only are such arrests banned in the wake of Lawrence, but the city of El Paso prohibits businesses catering to the public from discriminating based on sexual orientation.