Timmies 'apologizes' for turfing gay couple

Tim Hortons has issued a statement saying

Tim Hortons has issued a statement saying "all families and communities" are welcome at its restaurants. (CHRISTOPHER SMITH/QMI Agency Files)

JENNIFER O'BRIEN and VICKI GOUGH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- A Pentecostal minister says it was sexual behaviour that was more suited to a bedroom than a Blenheim, Ont., coffee shop.

One woman involved said it was a simple display of affection that rankled the minister because two women were involved.

And caught in the middle is national coffee chain Tim Hortons as the wildly different versions of what took place three weeks ago sparked a media and online frenzy Monday and a planned national protest Thursday.

Tim Hortons issued a statement Monday saying "all families and communities" are welcome at its restaurants after the women complained they were kicked out of the Blenheim restaurant because they're gay.

"We were there for coffee," said Riley Murphy, one of the women asked to leave after she said they kissed.

"A manager came over and said what we were doing wasn't acceptable, it was a family friendly environment and we had to leave within five minutes or the cops would be called.

"We were shocked. We left because the whole family was there."

Organizers of the protest, called Occupy Timmies, say the manager talked to the couple after a local minister "stared them down," complained to the manager and held an impromptu prayer service for the couple in the parking lot.

Rev. Eric Revie, an assistant pastor at Glad Tidings Community Church in Blenheim, said he complained to the manager about the sexual activities of a couple that he thought were male and female.

Chatham-Kent area social justice activists posted an appeal Sunday night on Facebook, asking supporters of the two women to gather Thursday at the Blenheim Tim Hortons for a "public demonstration against the discriminatory practices of this Tim Hortons location."

Those who can't make it are being urged to protest outside Tim Hortons in their own city as a show of solidarity.

Staff at the Blenheim Tim Hortons referred calls to the chain's head office.

It issued a statement saying sexual orientation had nothing to do with the manager asking the couple to leave.

"The guests' behaviour went beyond public displays of affection and was making other guests feel uncomfortable," said the e-mail statement sent to QMI Agency.

"The management has apologized to (the couple) Riley and Patricia and invited them back to their restaurant. We apologize if (they) were offended by the misunderstanding that occurred at our Blenheim restaurant last month on behalf of the owners and management. It was not the manager's intention to offend or target anyone based on their sexual orientation."


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