The 2014 Gay Games won't take place in Cleveland until August, but that hasn't stopped some city residents from speaking out against the forthcoming event.
As The Plain Dealer is reporting, a number of taxi drivers working for three companies which operate out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport are refusing to drive cabs featuring rooftop placards advertising the Gay Games, which take place from Aug. 9-16.
The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn shared a photograph of the signs in question on Twitter:
The publication cites a statement from airport officials, which indicated that some drivers from Ace and Yellow Taxi have informed their employers that they will no longer participate in the Cleveland Hopkins' dedicated taxi cab program because of the advertisements, citing religious reasons. The opposing drivers are of Muslim faith, according to the article.
Meanwhile, as the Associated Press pointed out, Americab's General Manager Patrick Keenan said the company doesn't share the views of the few drivers who have opposed the signs. Airport officials told The Cleveland Leader that an agreement between taxi cab stand operator Standard Parking had been reached, allowing for the replacing of drivers who are opting not to drive in the airport's 75-car taxi fleet.
Still, Gay Games organizers say they are disappointed, but undeterred by the news. "When you look at what's going on around the world it's not a huge surprise," Executive Director Tom Nobbe told local news outlet WOIO. "Even though there will be a handful of folks who are not comfortable the vast majority and we're seeing it now are totally enthusiastic and ready to welcome all these folks into town."
It isn't the first time taxi drivers have been at the epicenter of an anti-gay controversy. Last year, Steven White and his boyfriend Matt McCrea were reportedly returning from Chicago's O’Hare International Airport when they said their cab driver forced them out of the car after what they described as a quick peck on the lips.
"He indicated that it was a public mode of transportation and we shouldn’t kiss in his cab,” White recalled. "Rarely in my life have I ever wondered if I would have been treated differently if I were heterosexual. That thought hardly ever crosses my mind, but last night I wondered.”