By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com October 31 2013 1:34 PM ET
Lambda Legal is suing a Chicago taxi company on behalf of a gay couple who were ejected from a cab for kissing last spring.
Lambda filed a complaint Monday with the Illinois Department of Human Rights over the incident, in which Steven White and Matthew McCrea were told to get out of a Sun Taxi cab they had secured the night of May 30 at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, according to a Lambda press release.
While on a busy expressway, after they exchanged a quick kiss, the driver, Jama Anshur, pulled onto the shoulder and demanded that they get out of the cab — on the expressway, late at night, in the rain. They refused.
“I was in shock, and I was like, ‘We’re not getting out here,’” McCrea told Windy City Times shortly after the incident. “I was not going to get out on the expressway, and I made that explicit to him.”
According to the complaint, Anshur then drove erratically, pulled off at a nearby exit, and stopped at a parking lot, where he again demanded that McCrea and White leave. They had called police, and they waited until an officer arrived before leaving the cab.
The couple had filed an earlier complaint with the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, but Anshur failed to appear for a hearing on that complaint and was fined $1,540, Lambda notes. The new action alleges that Anshur violated a state law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations, and it seeks unspecified damages.
McCrea and White “were put in a very scary and very dangerous situation because someone did not like that they kissed in a cab, and I will tell you this was a peck,” Lambda attorney Christopher Clark told Windy City Times this week. He said he hoped the case would make clear that such discrimination would not be tolerated, and the couple said they hoped others who had suffered similar treatment would come forward.
Jong Lee, a Sun Taxi manager, declined to comment to the Times on the complaint, but he said Anshur’s lease with the company had been terminated. McCrea and White told the paper the company had never informed them of that or followed up with them in any way.