Leisha Hailey, Southwest Airlines and Equal Opportunity Discrimination

Leisha Hailey was escorted off a Southwest flight after she kissed her partner in the airplane. Say what you will, but at least Southwest is an equal opportunity discriminator.

If Southwest Airlines is considering launching a new ad campaign, I’ve got their slogan. Considering their current motto is “Grab your bag, It’s On!” perhaps something like “Equal Opportunity Discrimination: Grab your bag, Get off!” would preserve the urgency of the original motto while reflecting some of their recent actions a bit more accurately. Because rather than latching on to one particular minority group it dislikes, Southwest publicly humiliates them all – the overweight, the sartorially deficient, and, now, the lesbians. Former L Word actress and current indie musician Leisha Haley and her girlfriend were escorted off of a Southwest Flight after they exchanged what she calls “one modest kiss.”

Southwest refutes this characterization. According The New York Times, the airline claimed that the crew “received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive.” They also defend the action as one “based solely on behavior and not gender.”

Strangely enough, Southwest is the official airline of GLAAD, or the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Haley claims she has audio and video of the incident, although nothing has been released thus far. While these “he said/she said” situations are always unsettling, the airline’s history makes me think that the truth lies more with the actress than with Southwest. Even if it were more than a “modest” kiss, I have a hard time imagining that a heterosexual couple would have been escorted off the plane for similar behavior.

I think that if Southwest wants to improve its image, it could at least compile a database of celebrities with enough fame, or Twitter followers, to shame the airline’s actions, and promptly avoid instigating a controversy around them. If you’re going to discriminate, at least try to find those whose tweets regarding a boycott of the airline will not reach at least 21,000+ followers, in addition to those now reading rampant news reports on the incident. I mean, right?

[Photo from Wikimedia Commons]

Samantha Kimmey lives in New York, NY. Follow her on Twitter at @Samantha_Kimmey. ...read more

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