The bus driver who told a gay couple they needed to move to the back of the bus has been disciplined, an apology has been issued, and new training classes are planned for the company's drivers — all of this announced today after Lambda Legal intervened with a threatening letter.
Musician Ari Gold and his boyfriend Timothy Nelson were riding a New York Shortline bus in early July when the driver pulled over and demanded they move to the back of the bus because they were holding hands and acting like a couple.
"Your driver would not have challenged Mr. Gold and his boyfriend — much less summoned law enforcement — had they been a heterosexual couple," wrote Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director for Lambda Legal in a letter to Shortline later that month.
Gold and Nelson refused to move, so the bus driver called police. When officers arrived, they told the driver the couple was breaking no laws. Lambda Legal pointed out, though, that Shortline was breaking the law by discriminating.
And now the group is announcing a settlement that avoids a court battle.
"Lambda Legal is always prepared to go to the courts when members of the LGBT community face discrimination, but we're pleased when it doesn't have to come to that," said Gorenberg in a statement. "Short Line's swift and serious response shows this company knows that doing the right thing is also good business."
The driver has been "appropriately disciplined," policies and training on nondiscrimination laws are on the way for employees, and Gold got a refund for his tickets and an apology, according to Lambda Legal. All of those were on a wish list of possible outcomes that Gold shared during an interview with The Advocate after the incident.