Gay Couple 'Stunned' After Lyft Driver Kicks Them Out of Car for Kissing

Monday May 21, 2018

A young gay couple was left "stunned" after a Lyft drive in Indianapolis, Ind. booted them from his car on May 5 when they briefly kissed in the back seat, the Indy Star reports.

After being picked up for a ride, college students Ben Martella and his boyfriend Alec Jansen were forced out of their Lyft driver's car at a stoplight.

"We basically pecked, nothing out of the ordinary," Martella, a sophomore at Butler University, told the Indy Star. "He looked in his rearview mirror. He was yelling.

"We were stunned. We didn't know the reason for it," he continued. "He said, 'I'm going to end your ride. I can't have that in my car. I don't have that here.' ... I was really upset. It was a big reaction for such a small display of affection between two guys."

Jansen, a junior at Purdue University, added that he and Martella "gave each other a short kiss on the lips."

"I was just surprised the whole thing happened. It just didn't seem like it was real," he told the newspaper.

After the incident, Martella notified Lyft, which refunded their money. In their email the ride-sharing company said it took "the appropriate and necessary actions" and the message was signed by someone named "George," who identified themselves as a "Trust & Safety Specialist."

Martella, however, was not satisfied by the company's response and wanted the driver, an independent contractor, removed from Lyft. In another email,

Like Uber, Lyft has sexual orientation listed in their non-discrimination policies for drivers and passengers.|When contacted by the Indy Star about the incident involving the young couple, Lyft said it has "strict anti-discrimination policy" and that the driver was "deactivated." A spokesperson said that means the driver will no longer be able to use the service.

"My parents were really upset," Martella told the newspaper. "They both work for the federal government. My mom wanted to take further action. I'm kind of contemplating that. I talked to my mom about going to Indiana's ACLU. I don't know if that's the right path to take. There's really nothing I need out of the situation. It's my fear for others."

The state of Indiana does not have anti-discrimination laws that protect sexual orientation, however, Indianapolis does have a non-discrimination ordinance for "public accommodations" that includes sexual orientation.

In December 2017, two men who said a Lyft driver pulled a gun on them and spewed gay slurs during a ride in the North Halsted neighborhood of Chicago sued the company.

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