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Gay couple told to leave taxi after kiss files complaint

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A gay couple filed a human rights complaint on Monday against a Chicago-area taxi company because a driver told them to leave his cab after they kissed in the back seat.

The couple, Matthew McCrea, 30, of Chicago, and Steven White, 29, of West Hollywood, California, say they had exchanged a brief kiss in the back of a Sun Taxi cab when the driver pulled over on a busy expressway on a rainy night and told them to get out.

Though the driver has been fined by the city over the May incident and fired by his company, McCrea and White say they took their complaint to the Illinois Department of Human Rights to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. The complaint asks for unspecified compensation.

"We're doing this because what happened to us isn't right, and we want to make sure other people, if they find themselves in this situation, they know it's not OK," said McCrea in a phone interview.

The complaint comes as Illinois lawmakers are deciding whether to make President Barack Obama's home state the 15th to allow gay marriage. Gay marriage supporters are pushing for the state House to hold a vote on the issue during their fall session next. It was approved by the state Senate on Valentine's Day in February but the state House has not voted.

The complaint, which was filed by gay advocacy group Lambda Legal, said that after the couple refused to exit the cab, the driver began driving "recklessly" until he stopped in a store parking lot. The couple refused to leave until police arrived.

When an officer questioned the driver, Jama Anshur, he said McCrea and White had been "making sex," the complaint said. The officer let Anshur drive off, and waited with the couple until they found another cab.

The driver was fined $1,540 by Chicago's cab-regulatory agency over the incident, according to the complaint, and Sun Taxi fired him, according to Sun's general manager Jong Lee. Anshur, who was named along with Sun in the complaint, could not be reached for comment.

Lee, who said he had not yet seen the complaint, added that Sun Taxi holds classes for its drivers on providing customer service regardless of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Greg McCune and Richard Chang)

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