Anyone who has attended a Major League Baseball game in the past decade has probably seen a "Kiss Cam" where couples throughout the ballpark are featured locking lips on the big-screen JumboTrons.
But controversy over ballpark kissing erupted at Safeco Field in Seattle this week when a same-sex couple claimed they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, which stadium officials deny.
Sirbrina Guerrero, 23, says she and her partner, who requested anonymity, were just "exchanging pecks," not acting any differently than heterosexual couples at the game, when park officials told them to stop "making out" or leave the facility.
"We were acting the same as any other dates that were out there, except we were a lesbian couple," she said. "When you bring a date to a game, you kiss once in a while. But it's not like we were making out. We were just kissing as regular couples do. I would never make out with anyone at a baseball game."
Stadium officials are investigating the incident, but Safeco Field's code of conduct includes a provision stating that "staff will proactively intervene to support an environment where guests can enjoy the Safeco Field experience free from unacceptable behavior, including … displays of affection not appropriate in a family setting."
Guerrero claims that Safeco failed initially to clarify what affection was "not appropriate," but eventually told her that policy prohibits any public displays of affection, which, in this case, was not shown on the big screen.
"They have a policy that says you can't be conducting in that behavior, but honestly, the Mariners stadium has a kissing camera," Guerrero said. "So I don't understand how they would say you're not allowed to show public affection when they're blasting it across the stadium."
In a crowd of 30,000 people, Guerrero wonders how only one couple were reprimanded for displaying affection.
When asked whether she believes Safeco officials singled her and her partner out solely because they were a same-sex couple, Guerrero said, "Absolutely. Otherwise I wouldn't be so upset about it."
Since the Monday night incident, Guerrero and her partner have filed a formal discrimination complaint against Safeco Field.
"Washington state law says that you cannot be discriminated against, even as same-sex couples at a public event," she said. "And we were. Everyone I've talked to is really upset, because they know it was wrong and they don't agree with the way it was handled."
Washington passed a law in 2006 that specifically bans discrimination of same-sex couples in any public setting.
Rebecca Hale, the Seattle Mariners' director of public information, denies that the couple were singled out because of their gender or sexual orientation.
"We're trying to figure out the actual behavior that happened; it has nothing to do with the individual," Hale said. "We're taking the claim very seriously, but we're trying to talk to everybody and ascertain exactly what happened, and then we will be able to make a decision on how to proceed."
Stadium personnel intervened because of a specific complaint from a mother and her son, Hale said.