Pinkal: I guess I was in shock. I came right out and said, "Honestly, I was not doing that," I told him what I was doing; I was just sitting there having a cigarette. And he cited me anyway.Pinkal was charged with a misdemeanor, which could lead to 90 days in jail and a $700 fine. The case has been wending its way through the justice system and is currently awaiting trial in Ramsey County District Court.
White: If society sees two gay men hugging or embracing in any kind of way, for the mainstream society it can be an offensive act in and of itself. Our concern is that private biases of individuals should never be given any kind of indirect or direct effect by the law, and in fact it is.At most, White says, heterosexual couples caught in lovers' lanes get a warning, not a ticket, a claim supported by interviews with several Ramsey County judges; who say they've seen only a handful of straight couples in many years of hearing cases of this sort.
Maloney: Okay, where we are, we're just upstream from the Lake Street Bridge, which is to Saint Paulites the Marshall Avenue Bridge. The Minneapolis Rowing Club is right across the water there.Desnoyer neighborhood activist Jack Maloney lives about a block from Pieffer's beach. He says families used to come down here a lot, years ago, but now they avoid it because of incidents like the day Maloney's brother-in-law took the grandkids for a walk.
Maloney: They set out and started down those stairs that we came down. They got down to the bottom, started down the river, and immediately had to turn back, because there was a group of men engaged in sexual activity on the riverbank.
"The language that's of concern actually states that no person shall appear in any street or public place in a dress not belonging to his or her sex. Now, that specific language is clearly homophobic and heterosexist."
- Attorney Kyle White
Maloney: Oh, we're in one of the little seclusion areas. Looks like an old pair of abandoned underwear there. Condom wrapper.Maloney says in good weather, dozens of people come to Pieffer's Beach every day. He ran a check on the license numbers of cars parked along the road and found mostly suburban Twin City addresses, plus a few Wisconsin cities. Neighbors complained to police about the traffic and the incidents, and police spokesman Michael Jordan says his department responded.
Jordan: Different communities have different concerns. In Frogtown, prostitution, open-air drug dealing is a major concern. In the Highland Park area, people speeding and disobeying traffic laws is a major concern. It just happens in this particular case around the Pieffer Beach area, this open display of sexual activity was a concern and it was one that we addressed.Attorney Kyle White says complaints from the neighborhood don't justify applying the law unequally. A California court has ruled a police department can't actively pursue gays in this way if it isn't also seeking out straight people having public sex.
Daly: Suppose the police stop speeders on a specific highway stretch, and it turns out 98 percent of the people who get tickets for speeding are white. Well, it may be that all the people who live in this county or along this stretch of highway are white.Daly says you need more.
Daly: You need memos from the police for example saying, "Let's go and arrest some gays tonite."So far, Attorney White doesn't have that kind of evidence. The judge has yet to decide if the officer's personnel record is germane to the case, and police spokesman Michael Jordan says he won't find animus against gays in his department.
White: The language that's of concern actually states that no person shall appear in any street or public place in a dress not belonging to his or her sex. Now, that specific language is clearly homophobic and heterosexist.White says it's a throwback to a 1881 law called the Chicago Rule, which was specifically designed to fight open homosexuality. He says it taints the rest of the law, and the law should be thrown out because it violates the state's human rights law. However, legal experts say this, too, will be hard to prove.
Pinkal: The public needs to be aware that it's discrimination. You know it wasn't my intention in the beginning. I was just goin' to clear myself. Now, it's turned into a lot bigger issue and I think it needs to be dealt with.If Pinkal is found guilty, he and Attorney Kyle White say they'll appeal the decision.