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Ejected actress: ‘Peck’ not ‘excessive’

Escorted off flight for kiss to girlfriend

The publicist for the lesbian actress and musician who says she was escorted off a Southwest Airlines Flight for kissing her partner says the encounter was not a publicity stunt for her band's upcoming breast cancer awareness tour.

Leisha Hailey, best known for playing Alice Pieszecki in the now defunct Showtime lesbian life drama "The L-Word," asked her Twitter followers to boycott Southwest Airlines after the encounter Monday.

The airline responded that Miss Hailey's display of affection was excessive and drew customer complaints.

The incident resulted in a national media spotlight for the actress, who now is a part of the electro-pop duo Uh Huh Her. Publicist Libby Coffey said Tuesday that the encounter was real and was "absolutely not" done for attention.

The airline said in a news release posted on its website: "Our crew, responsible for the comfort of all Customers on board, approached the passengers based solely on behavior and not gender. The conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight."

Miss Hailey tweeted that she was escorted off the flight after it landed.

The air carrier so far has limited its response to the four-sentence statement on its website. Phone calls and emails seeking comment were not returned.

"Initial reports indicate that we received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive," the statement said.

The kissing occurred in the air and a discussion followed when the plane landed, but details of how the couple was escorted off the flight were not included in the Southwest statement. Initial reports had the flight between Baltimore and St. Louis, but a tweet by the band says they were flying from El Paso, Texas, to Los Angeles.

The band's Twitter feed also characterized the kiss as fleeting. "I didn't realize a small peck on the lips is regarded as excessive and never once did your stewardess mention other passengers," said the tweet from UhHuhHerMusic.

Miss Hailey said in a tweet that she has an audio and video recording of the encounter between the couple and the flight attendant. It's not immediately clear who made it. She demanded a public apology and a refund from the airline.

Miss Hailey was a musician before she joined the cast of the cable drama about lesbian friends and lovers living in Los Angeles. The show is not aired currently.

Southwest's website says it is the official airline of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Herndon Graddick, senior director of programs at GLAAD, said in an email that "GLAAD contacted Southwest to call for additional actions beyond tonight's statement that ensure all customers feel comfortable and welcomed while traveling."

Miss Hailey is preparing to launch a 21-city tour with Uh Huh Her to promote breast cancer awareness. One of the band's songs was included in the 2010 lesbian-themed movie "The Kids Are All Right."

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