Two men who flew into Albuquerque, New Mexico were ordered to sit in the back of their airport bus because they were holding hands. According to Albuquerque’s KRQE, Ron McCoy and Chris Bowers traveled from Portland, Oregon to take part in Albuquerque’s LGBT PrideFest, arriving in New Mexico’s largest city on Friday, June 28, two days after this summer’s historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same sex marriage and a day before PrideFest.
The couple retrieved their bags and boarded an airport shuttle. Excited about the weekend ahead, the two men held each other’s hands for a moment. McCoy described the shuttle driver’s reaction to seeing the show of affection.
“I saw him look at us, look down at his hands and he looked so angry,” he said. “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.’”
Surprised, but not wanting to cause trouble or make a scene, McCoy and Bowers complied, moving to the back of the bus. When the bus stopped at their destination, however, McCoy confronted the driver, asking him why he ordered them to move.
“I said, ‘I think it was because you didn’t like the fact that I was holding my partner’s hand,’” McCoy told KRQE. “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.’”
The driver works for a firm called Standard Parking, which is an independent contractor serving the Albuquerque airport. A spokesperson for the airport, Don Jiron, said, “First and foremost, it is absolutely unacceptable. We immediately got in touch with Standard Parking to assess what exactly happened. They acknowledged this was a mistake on the part of the driver.”
A Standard Parking spokesperson told KRQE that the driver got “carried away” and acted inappropriately, but that he didn’t consider it discrimination.
McCoy and Bowers said that no one has apologized to them or made any official effort to address the incident. The two men have filed a complaint with the ACLU.
The driver who made the remarks still works for Standard Parking. The company said that he is a ten-year veteran of the company with no other disciplinary problems, but that in the future, drivers will be required to undergo sensitivity training.
Watch video about this story, embedded below via Albuquerque’s KRQE: