about a gay-themed ad on some city buses, a driver in
Minneapolis has been given official permission not to drive
any bus that carries that ad, the Minneapolis Star
driver's religious beliefs, transit authorities called it a
"reasonable accommodation" in an internal memo confirmed
Tuesday by the transit agency, the Star Tribune
union, Amalgamated Transit Unit Local 1005, is contesting
the decision, saying the bus agency is condoning
never been excused from other buses carrying ads they found
objectionable, from political candidates to pink bras, the
The ad in
question is for Lavender Magazine, a local LGBT
publication. It has run since last year on 50 Minneapolis
buses and carries a photo of a young man with the
slogan "Unleash Your Inner Gay."
The October 12
memo to dispatchers at the bus garage in Minneapolis
listed 25 buses that carry the Lavender ad and said
not to give them "under any circumstances" to the
complaining driver, a new hire whom they identified
only by her employee number.
office determined that we could make a simple,
reasonable accommodation on religious ground by not
assigning her (the driver) to one of the 25 buses--out
of 150--at the Nicollet garage," Metro Transit
spokesman Bob Gibbons said.
agency has not threatened to pull the ad, Lavender
CEO Stephen Rocheford told Gay.com.
Sommers, Local 1005's president, said the agency is handling
it badly. "If you start saying this or that ad is
inappropriate, you're offending other people, and that
can create a difficult environment for people to work
in," she said.
"We have Muslim
employees. Now if there's an ad for alcohol on the
side of a bus, should Muslim employees be allowed to not
drive that bus? And is the next step that mechanics
don't have to work on the bus?" Sommers asked.
the ad's image, picked from 63 choices, was not meant to
be provocative--"but anytime you say the word 'gay,' someone
is going to make a fuss." So far, he said, the ads
have been great for business.
happen if Lavender's building was on fire?" he
asked. "Would it be OK for a firefighter not to put it out?"