The mayor of Hazard, Ky., has apologized for a city employee's ejection of a gay disabled couple from a public pool.
Mayor Nan Gorman, 83, told the Associated Press that the city is also investigating the incident, but no decisions have been made about the employee of the Pavilion, a public recreational facility. Mending Hearts Inc., the care and support facility of which the gay couple are clients, and the Kentucky Equality Federation have filed a complaint with the city, demanding that the city worker be transferred to another department.
Gorman said that news broke of the incident has led to an influx of calls and press attention.
"I've had people call from everywhere," Gorman said. "You'd think we've had a murder scene up here, a massacre."
Gorman said that her city of 4,800 is not intolerant, and that the city pool once hired a gay lifeguard, according to the AP.
"We're all aware of tolerance here. We're not completely shadowed here by the mountains," she said.
Shirlyn Perkins, executive director of Mending Hearts Inc., said in a statement Monday that the Pavilion staff member used the Bible to urge the couple to leave the facility.
"My staff asked the Pavilion staff why they were being asked to leave, and they were informed that 'gay people' weren't allowed to swim there," she said. "My staff told this man that what he was trying to do was discrimination. The man stated that what he was doing was in the Bible and he could do it. My staff continued to argue with this man but was ultimately forced to leave. My clients, who already feel ridiculed and different, left the city-owned facility crying and embarrassed for trying to participate in 'normal' activities that everyday 'normal' people do."
A protest is planned for Saturday against The Pavilion. Jordan Palmer of the Kentucky Equality Federation told the AP that he received several angry emails, including one that said Palmer would leave the protest "with a bullet in his head."