Friday, October 08, 2010

Lesbian Couple Ejected at Ravens Game

With the Baltimore Ravens clinging to a 14-10 halftime lead against the Cleveland Browns on September 26, Mary Kate Morris and Nicole Marchetto decided to hit the concession stand behind Section 538 of M&T Bank Stadium. Little did they know at that point that they would not get to see the second half of the game.

The couple, who reside in Hampden, saw a long line at the restroom and decided to buy some beer and fries until the line diminished. They spotted a plastic cup on the counter and used it to pour ketchup for the fries.

While waiting for their orders, the couple engaged in what Marchetto characterized as "casual kissing." Almost immediately a security guard and a supervisor told the women to "stop making a scene." They were warned on three occasions but they continued because, according to Marchetto, "the kissing was heartfelt and decent in the real sense and was not any different from what numerous law-abiding straight couples were doing all around us."

Soon afterwards, the security guard demanded to see their driver licenses, and then the women were told they need to leave the stadium immediately. Asking why they had to leave the guard accused them of first stealing the cup from the concession stand and then accused them of stealing the beer. A Baltimore City policeman intervened and told the guards they did not steal any beer. "Dude, that's not what they did," Morris recollected the officer's remarks to the guard. The couple still has the receipts from all the purchases.

Nonetheless, they were forced out of the stadium escorted by three police officers. As they left, Marchetto "looked the cop in the eye and told him that I am not only a paying customer and a law-abiding citizen." It was to no avail.

Mary Kate Morris and Nicole Marchetto strongly believe that their ejection resulted from the kissing and nothing else. "Straight couples were kissing all around us," concurred Morris who pointed out that no one complained about their own displays of affection. As a matter of fact, some fans were not only approving but cheered us."

Baltimore OUTloud contacted the Maryland Stadium Authority, the organization who employs security at M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards to comment on the incident. After checking with security personnel, Jan Hardesty, a media spokesperson for the Maryland Stadium Authority, stated the ejection was a result of "unauthorized removal of inventory" (the cup). According to Hardesty, an employee of Aramark (company that runs the concessions) witnessed the removal of the cup to pour ketchup. Each item must be accounted for, according to Hardesty.

When asked does the use of a cup, for which the women offered to pay the full price of a fountain drink, justify removal from the game given the price of tickets, Hardesty had no comment.

The same question was posed to Patrick Gleason, Public Relations Manager for the Baltimore Ravens. He, too, did not respond. However, he did investigate the incident with the Ravens' senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne and vice president of stadium operations Roy Sommerhof.

The official response by Byrne: “We’re aware of the incident, and we’re satisfied with the action taken by the concessionaire, security and police.”

Gleason added, "Many of our game day concession stands are run by volunteer groups to raise money for their charities. Accounting for drinks sold is computed by the number of cups used. If cups are taken or missing once the game ends, then the respective volunteer group is responsible for reimbursement."

However, Mary Kate Morris and Nicole Marchetto believe the eviction was out of proportion compared to removal of a plastic cup and that the displays of affection were the true motive. The false accusation regarding stealing beer lends credence to their assertion.

At press time, the couple is considering legal options.

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