Is it time to boycott Southwest?

Posted on 27 Sep 2011 at 1:52pm

It’s been nearly 24 hours since lesbian actress and musician Leisha Hailey alleged on Twitter that she’d been kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for kissing her girlfriend. But we still haven’t heard anything more about the incident from Hailey, whose spokeswoman isn’t responding to media inquiries.

The Associated Press reports today that the kissing took place aboard a flight from Baltimore to St. Louis, and Hailey and her partner were kicked off the plane after it landed. According to the airline’s statement, that’s when a discussion “escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground.” The airline characterized the kissing as “excessive” and said there were “several complaints” from passengers about it.

According to an itinerary for the flight, after St. Louis it was headed to Dallas Love Field, then El Paso and Los Angeles, but it’s unclear where Hailey planned to disembark. Hailey, who starred in Showtime’s The L Word and is a member of the band Uh Huh Her, reportedly is set to begin a 21-city tour to promote breast cancer awareness.

Hailey called for a boycott of Southwest on Twitter after the incident, but the National Gay Pilots Association isn’t ready to go along with that.

“The National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) opposes any premature boycott measures against Southwest Airlines until we hear all sides,” the group said in a statement released today. “Southwest Airlines has strict non-discrimination policies in place and is actively working with NGPA and other gay rights organizations to further enhance their policies and employee training. We still expect SWA to send a clear signal to all its employees that such behavior cannot be tolerated (especially when it comes to definition of family), should the accusations be true.”

As the AP story points out, Hailey isn’t the first celebrity to be kicked off a Southwest flight in the last few years. And as we noted yesterday, this isn’t the first gay-related controversy the airline has faced in recent months.

Southwest received a score of 95 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent Corporate Equality Index, and it happens to be the official airline of GLAAD. (Check out the GLBT Outreach section of Southwest’s website here.) Another factor for those of us in Dallas: SWA essentially flies out of the gayborhood. 

So what do you think, is it time to boycott Southwest? Who knows, perhaps the below cartoon about Monday’s incident from Taiwan’s Next Media Animation will help you decide.

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