Lambda Legal Sues After Cab Driver Kicks Out Gay Couple for Exchanging a Kiss
(Chicago, IL, October 28, 2013) - Today, Lambda Legal filed a complaint on behalf of Steven White and Matthew McCrea, a gay couple who were unlawfully refused service and forced to exit a Sun Taxi operated taxi-cab after they exchanged a kiss.
"A taxi-cab company, like any other business in Illinois that offers services to the public, is bound by the Illinois Human Rights Act to not discriminate based on sexual orientation, among other protected categories," said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. "What happened to Steven and Matthew was not only hurtful and unlawful, it illustrates exactly why Illinois' citizens need the state's long-standing Human Rights Act to protect them against dangerous situations like this."
On May 30, 2013, Steven White and Matthew McCrea were leaving O'Hare International Airport and secured a taxi from the dispatch line outside of the airport terminal. Towards the beginning of their ride home, White and McCrea exchanged a brief kiss, after which the cab driver flashed the interior lights on and off. The driver then pulled over to the shoulder of the John F. Kennedy Expressway and demanded that White and McCrea get out of the cab. It was raining, and the couple refused to exit the cab. Instead, they called 311, the city's municipal information number. The driver then abruptly re-entered the expressway and sped towards the nearest exit, prompting the operator to transfer the couple's call for help to 911. The driver exited the expressway, stopped at a nearby parking lot and again demanded the couple get out of the cab. The couple was told by the 911 operator that a police officer would be sent to meet them. The couple remained in the cab until the officer arrived. The officer then waited with White and McCrea until another taxi came to pick them up.
"When the driver demanded that we get out of the cab, I was afraid," said Matthew McCrea. "It was late, there was a storm, we were on an expressway and I can't imagine what would have happened if the driver had actually kicked us out of the cab."