Gay Couple Ordered to the Back of the Bus Receives Apology from Shuttle Service


Standard Parking apologized to a gay couple who were told to move to the back of the airport shuttle last month after the driver spotted them holding hands. Ron McCoy and his partner, Chris Bowers had just flown in from Portland, Oregon for Albuquerque New Mexico's Pride Festival last month when the incident took place.

A release from the company reads:

"We sincerely apologize to Mr. Bowers and Mr. McCoy for any disrespectful treatment they received in New Mexico. Standard Parking respects the equal rights of all customers, and we do not condone or tolerate discrimination of any kind against any of our customers or employees, whether relating to sexual orientation, gender, age, race, nationality or religion.

The employee in question was suspended immediately upon our learning of the incident in early July, and we required that he and our entire transportation staff repeat our sensitivity training protocol. This unfortunate incident reinforces our commitment to emphasizing employee sensitivity training throughout our organization. Again, our sincere apologies to Mr. Bowers and Mr. McCoy."

WNKU adds:

Officials from the city and its airport have called the driver's actions unacceptable.

"This does not reflect Albuquerque, New Mexico. And as the mayor I'm upset about it and we want to make sure we get to the bottom of it," Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry told KOB TV 4 yesterday.

Berry has asked the city's human rights office to look into the incident. The state's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has also expressed interest in the case, according to multiple reports.

Despite the apology, McCoy says he isn't entirely convinced that Standard Parking made the statement in earnest.

"In some ways it makes me feel like what they really regret is the attention they're getting," he told KATU.


  1. bandanajack says

    seems like a pretty well done apology to me, and a full staff sensitivity training seems a full fledged and meaningful response… unless you are looking for a cash settlement.

  2. Continuum says

    Looks like the couple got a decent apology and that the firm is at least going through the motions of correcting the wrong.

    Time to move on to more important issues.

  3. JMC says

    What, so they didn’t even fire the driver who ordered them to the back of the bus (suspension =/= termination) and some of you are actually satisfied with the action being taken? What a joke.

  4. frodobowl says

    My question is, why did they obey? We never get to the root of the problem. If people inherently feel or believe that what they are doing or how they are living and expressing themselves is “wrong” or “shameful” then we will get nowhere. Where is Mr. McCoy’s and Mr. Bower’s “NO”? Where is their border? Why do they not stand up and say, “NO, we will not move to the back,” They, and all people who are discriminated against, allowed this to happen because they immediately assumed the “victim” position in this situation. The root of the problem is instilling and cultivating worth and strength inside ourselves so we can deal with these situations immediately to diffuse them.

  5. Wisebear says

    The driver should clearly be fired. But I don’t think these guys should get money. If that had happened to me, I wouldn’t have moved. Take out your phone and call 911 or call the bus company. Stand up for your rights. Don’t crawl to the back of the bus and then come looking for a reward later.

  6. Pete N SFO says


    Let’s re-frame this a bit to put it in perspective… If he had ordered black people to the back of the bus, or a mixed race couple, etc… do you really think merely a suspension would be appropriate?

    It’s another case of society not understanding how extensive discrimination against gays really is, & not being vocal enough in their objections.

  7. James says

    Amazing that some of you apologists are satisfied with suspension, and as for the sensitivity training, note that the company said the employees must REPEAT the course, meaning that they’ve already been through it once. So not only doesn’t it work, but the driver clearly knew better.
    He should be fired.
    And the only way to punish bigoted companies (the driver clearly knew he was on safe ground) is to hit them in the wallet. So yes, they deserve a cash settlement.

  8. jakeinlove says

    I love the fact that this company has taken a stance in reprimanding the employee and making a public apology.

  9. Vint says

    Actually, it’s sort of a sucky apology.

    “We sincerely apologize to Mr. Bowers and Mr. McCoy for ANY disrespectful treatment they received in New Mexico.”

    when what was needed is:

    “We sincerely apologize to Mr. Bowers and Mr. McCoy for THE disrespectful treatment they received in New Mexico.”

    or better:

    “We sincerely apologize to Mr. Bowers and Mr. McCoy for the disgraceful way our employee treated them.”

    ‘Disrespectful’ is a fairly tepid characterization for this sort of active discrimination.

    Apologies that don’t affirm that the event they are purportedly apologizing for actually happened, and that don’t acknowledge exactly who is at fault are intrinsically sucky.

  10. Philip Wester says

    The bigoted driver needs to be FIRED. How shortchanged on drivers are they that they need to keep him?

  11. andrew says

    The apology seems fine. If the driver has an otherwise good work record, he should not be fired. Many people seem quick to want to fire people for mistakes. If you fire him, you probably guarantee that he will be a lifelong enemy of LGBT folks. Let it be a learning experience for him by introducing him to some LGBT folks. His attitude may change. Having said all that, it still annoys me that they followed his order. It reinforces the image that gay men are sissies who won’t stand up to bullies.