A monthly paper devoted to Chicago's
taxicab industry has threatened to out as gay five city aldermen
unless their demands are met.
In a Chicago Dispatcher
editorial, George J. Lutfallah, the paper's publisher, laments it has
“come to this” but insists his paper will name names if the city
government does not outlaw ridesharing permanently.
“We did not want it to come to this
but our city government has been allowing unfair competition in
violation of the law. Lawsuits have been filed. Newspaper reports
have been published. Aldermen have been lobbied. Yet the city
appears to be going forward with a proposal to allow people to get
paid to give rides to others in their private cars. We will not
stand for this. What follows is a list of specific demands that must
be met by the end of March or we will release the names of the
secretly gay aldermen,” Lutfallah wrote.
Ridesharing apps such as Lyft and Uber
are becoming increasingly popular. Each allows drivers to share a
ride in exchange for a donation.
Ridesharing should be banned “because
their drivers do not have commercial insurance and it would be
impossible to create an insurance instrument that would cover drivers
and riders,” Lutfallah wrote, adding that up to 40 percent of
rideshare drivers are women.
“If a woman needs a ride somewhere,
she will only feel safe if the driver is a man.”
“We have it on good authority that a
couple of [the closeted aldermen] watch Duck Dynasty while
eating carryout from Chick-fil-A,” he added, suggesting that the
politicians are anti-gay.
He concluded: “There's a reason we
have laws – to protect established businesses. Our city council
has a duty to protect the taxicab business from competition that
offers a better service that consumers prefer. Let's keep things the
way they were and follow established regulations and cultural norms.”
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality
Illinois, the state's largest LGBT rights advocate, called on the
paper to retract the editorial and apologize to the LGBT community,
the City Council and women.
“If the publication thought such a
commentary would further the cause in the taxi drivers' ongoing
dispute with the city, it will surely backfire,” Cherkasov said in
an emailed statement. “No one likes to be threatened or ridiculed,
whether individually or as an institution, and with its commentary
this publication surely has injected more cynicism and distrust
instead of raising awareness about their concerns. Such comments as
were contained in the article are simply not funny and are not to be