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Gay couple allegedly sent to back of bus

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The city’s Human Rights Office will look into allegations that a gay couple holding hands were ordered to the back of an airport shuttle bus.

Mayor Richard Berry said he called for the inquiry on Monday after seeing a report on KRQE-TV.

“There’s no place in Albuquerque, N.M., or anywhere for discrimination,” he said.

Standard Parking Inc., which provides shuttle services to the airport’s rental-car center, issued an apology Monday and said the driver in question was suspended. The company’s staff also underwent sensitivity training.

Ron McCoy told KRQE that he and his partner, Chris Bowers, flew into Albuquerque from Portland, Ore., in June for a road trip through the Southwest. McCoy said he and Bowers were holding hands when the driver ordered them to the back of the bus.

Berry said the city will complete a “full inquiry” into what happened and see whether any enforcement action is warranted. Standard Parking is under contract with the city for shuttle bus services between the airport terminal and the rental car center.

Daniel Jiron, a spokesman for the Albuquerque International Sunport, said the airport learned of the incident earlier this summer and confronted Standard Parking.

“We immediately contacted them and told them that this was completely and totally unacceptable and would not be tolerated,” Jiron said.

He released a police report filed June 28, when an aviation police officer was called to the rental car center. The officer said two gentlemen, not identified by name in the report, “stated when they were waiting for the shuttle bus at the Sunport staging area they were holding hands when the bus pulled up.”

They sat in the front of the bus, according to the report.

“One of them indicated he was so happy to be in the Sunshine State he started to sing,” the officer said in the report. (“Sunshine State” is a former nickname for New Mexico.) “The bus driver indicated I am not going to have this on my bus and told them to go to the back of the bus.”

The Journal wasn’t able to reach McCoy or Bowers on Monday.

Michael Wolf, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Standard Parking, issued an apology Monday.

“We sincerely apologize to Messrs. McCoy and Bowers for any disrespectful treatment they received in New Mexico,” he said in a written statement. “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.”

Wolf said the “employee in question was suspended in early July immediately upon our learning of the incident, 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 Messrs. McCoy and Bowers.”

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