A gay couple who traveled from Portland, Ore. to Albuquerque to attend the city’s Pride festival found themselves transported to the Dark Ages when they boarded a shuttle bus at the airport and were ordered by the driver to sit in the back after he saw them holding hands.
As KRQE reports, Ron McCoy and Chris Bower arrived in New Mexico’s largest city on June 28, which it should be noted was two days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA and rejected California’s Proposition 8, and were shocked to find themselves discriminated against after they boarded the shuttle and found seats near the front.
McCoy recalled the driver looking at the two men as they held hands and he immediately appeared to become angry. “He just blurted out at me, he goes, “’Okay, if you’re going to do that, you’re going to the back of the bus.’”
When the shuttle stopped, the two men complied with the driver’s order to move to the back of the bus, but not before questioning the driver’s motives.
“I said, ‘I think it was because you didn’t like the fact that I was holding my partner’s hand.’ He goes, ‘See, now you’re telling on yourself.’ My partner responds, ‘Well, that’s discrimination,’ and the driver responds, ‘You’re telling on yourself again,’” McCoy said.
Bernadette Aguirre, a woman who was also on the bus and witnessed the confrontation, quickly defended the couple.
“I told the bus driver that I was completely appalled that anybody would be treated this way,” Aguirre said .
“And the driver looks back at us and goes, ‘I’ll show you what’s appalling,’ and he points to us,” McCoy said.
Bill Alberti, a manager for Standard Parking, which contracts all shuttle buses for the Albuquerque airport, told KRQE that the driver’s conduct was inappropriate, but that he just “overstepped a little bit.” Alberti revealed that after the incident, all drivers will undertake sensitivity and non-harassment training.
McCoy and Bower said they’ve yet to receive an apology and have filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Watch the KRQE news report below.