Ben Martella and Alec Jansen were on their way from Indianapolis' Butler University to Broad Ripple, Indiana on May 5 in a Lyft vehicle when they shared a small kiss.
"We basically pecked, nothing out of the ordinary," Martella told IndyStar. "He looked in his rearview mirror. He was yelling. We were stunned. We didn’t know the reason for it. 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."
The driver ordered the couple to leave his vehicle at a stoplight.
Jansen added, "We 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."
Martella reported the incident to Lyft and received a refund plus an email that said the company took "the appropriate and necessary actions," signed by George, a "Trust & Safety Specialist." Martella was not satisfied with this impersonal response and requested that the driver, an independent contractor, be removed from this position. George, whose last name was not provided, said that he was "unable to share specific actions taken" due to their "safety and privacy policies."
A Lyft spokesperson told IndyStar that the driver was "deactivated" and the company followed a "strict anti-discrimination policy."
In the state of Indiana, there are no laws that protect civil rights based on sexual orientation, but Indianapolis has an ordinance that includes sexual orientation.