On June 28, 2013, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a same-sex Portland couple had just arrived at Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) to attend the LGBT PrideFest when they say a Standard Parking shuttle bus driver ordered them to the back of the shuttle.

Ron McCoy and his partner Chris Bowers boarded the airport shuttle while holding each others hand. According to the men, the airport shuttle driver saw them engaging in this simple embrace and allegedly became disgusted and angry, and told them, “Okay, if you’re going to do that, you’re going to the back of the bus.”

The couple, whether in shock, or not wanting to make a scene upon just arriving on a holiday, or both, did not immediately confront the driver about his orders and behavior, instead waiting until they reached their stop.

According to media reports, the driver was unapologetic.  Apparently another passenger on the shuttle told the driver she too was disgusted by his treatment of the couple, only to result in further inappropriate comments by the driver.  “And the driver looks back at us and goes, ‘I’ll show you what’s appalling,’ and he points to us,” McCoy said.

gay rights movement

Ron McCoy and his partner Chris Bowers

KRQE reported that the airport did reply to the admittedly unacceptable behavior and stated it had been in touch with Standard Parking, which acknowledged the driver was at fault.

Standard Parking told KRQE that the driver got “carried away,” but they did not consider what he did to be discrimination. The driver has worked for the company for 10 years and has no history of disciplinary problems.

The couple has since filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union and may be considering other legal action.

  • Have you been discrimination against or witnessed inappropriate comments or actions to others while traveling?  
  • Does your location, i.e. stranger in a different city or country, matter?
  • Would you speak up to support someone being discriminated against?

Comment below. I’m interested to hear your thoughts and encounters. 



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