By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com July 09 2014 1:16 PM ET
A gay veteran of the Iraq war says he was the victim of antigay discrimination on the Fourth of July when a taxi driver allegedly kicked him and his boyfriend out of the cab for what the veteran contends was a simple kiss.
Eric Williams and his boyfriend called a Yellow Cab to take them home from Club Silverstone, a gay bar in Tacoma, Wash., early Saturday morning. After a few minutes in the cab, Williams says, he and his boyfriend exchanged a simple peck on the lips, which apparently upset the cab driver.
"He said, ‘You’re two men, why are you kissing?’" Williams recounted to Seattle's KCPQ. "We said, 'That’s my boyfriend, I’m gay.' That’s when the cabbie started to get really hostile with us. He pulled off the road and told us to get out of the car; he wasn’t going to serve us."
The cab driver alleges that the couple was engaging in "something more intimate" than the simple peck Williams described, which offended the driver and prompted him to ask the men to leave his car.
A spokesman for Yellow Cab told KCPQ that "there are two sides to every story" and noted that the company is investigating the incident. The cab was equipped with a video camera, from which the company has requested footage. If the footage corroborates Williams's version of events, the Yellow Cab spokesman said the driver, who has been with the company for seven years, will be terminated.
Williams, an Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq and survived an investigation under the since-repealed "don't ask, don't tell," said he was shocked by the turn of events but wanted to share his story in hopes of making sure it doesn't happen to others.
"If he’s done this before or not, it doesn’t really matter," Williams told KCPQ. "It happened to the wrong person, because I’m not going to stay silent. I’m going to let people know what happened so they know their rights, so they stand up for themselves."
Last year two same-sex couples reported being booted from cabs for what they claim were innocuous public displays of affection in Chicago and Portland, Ore. Both of those instances resulted in charges being filed against the taxi drivers.
Watch KCPQ's report below.