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  WINDY CITY TIMES

2nd Bias Case Alleged Against Cesar's
Lesbian kept silent for a year; comes forward in wake of new allegations
by LORI WEINER
2003-09-17

This article shared 1735 times since Wed Sep 17, 2003
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One week after lesbian couple Naomi Mendoza and Melissa Johns reported experiencing alleged anti-GLBT bias at the Clark Street location of Cesar's Mexican restaurant, another Chicago lesbian has come forward with a nearly identical allegation against the establishment occurring over one year ago.

Interviewed at the restaurant on Friday, Sept. 12, the owner of Cesar's admitted that the reported Aug. 31 incident occurred and that he, not a busboy, was the person who verbally sparred with Melissa Johns.

However, Cesar claims he approached the women's table because of the women's 'behavior' and not because they are lesbian. '(Mendoza and Johns) were drinking,' Cesar told Windy City Times, 'and they got horny. I had to do something. Families were in here. Half my waitstaff is gay. I'm not prejudiced—I'll serve anybody who comes in here. But the behavior has to be right.' When asked if he would have taken the same course of action if the couple in question had been straight, Cesar declined to answer.

In an older alleged incident, Kathy Betts said that on May 14, 2002, after playfully showing physical affection to a female companion while waiting for the bill to be presented at Cesar's, a female employee of the restaurant approached the women and asked 'in a hostile manner' if there was a 'problem.' According to Betts, shortly thereafter a busboy approached the table and began screaming at her and her companion. She remembers the busboy screaming 'You have to behave! Behave! Behave! This is a family restaurant!' The busboy then allegedly told the women never to come back.

Both of the recent bias allegations against Cesar's claim that a Latin male of between 30-40 years of age, speaking with a thick accent and working in what appears to be a busboy capacity, belligerently shouts at lesbian customers displaying physical affection to 'behave' and that Cesar's is a 'family business.' Both allegations also mention the presence of a woman who appears to be a hostess and does nothing to interrupt the alleged busboy as he berates his customers.

Betts told Windy City Times that when the incident initially occurred, she was 'shocked, angry, and sad. I couldn't stop crying because I felt so attacked. I don't believe I have ever felt discrimination before this, so I didn't know how to handle the situation or how to feel about it.' Betts, who is acquainted with the lesbian couple who were allegedly harassed at Cesar's Aug. 31 (see last week's WCT), decided to come forward after hearing of her friends' experience.

Meanwhile, 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney's office confirmed on Thursday that it was 'investigating' the Aug. 31 allegation of bias after receiving a formal complaint from Mendoza and Johns. While stressing an inquiry has not yet been conducted, a spokesman for Tunney's told WCT that the alderman was 'very concerned' with continuing reports of bias at Cesar's.


This article shared 1735 times since Wed Sep 17, 2003
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