“I’m a Christian so, as a Christian, there are things like homosexuality that I just can’t condone. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, the accusation is that you hate the person.” The words are those of Calgary bus driver Jesse Rau, who, according to Canada’s National Post, said he’d sooner quit his job than drive one of the city’s fleet of buses, which have been decked out in rainbow colors for Gay Pride Week.
The Post article writes that Calgary Transit has wrapped its buses in a “symbol of inclusiveness,” which seems like an odd statement in the context of an article on a standoff between competing belief systems. Then again, the point of view is hardly surprising when you consider the paper’s liberal leanings.
Further down, the article quotes Calgary Pride’s director of government affairs, Craig Sklenar, who hailed the buses as a symbol of progress:
It’s a sign of the change in Calgary. There’s still much to do in as much as LGBTQ rights are concerned but we are excited there is such public displays of pride across the city over the next few weeks.
Jesse Rau for his part is realistic about the consequences of refusing to drive a rainbow bus. He told reporters:
I have a family to support and I am very concerned about losing the job, it’s something I’m very proud to be a part of, but when it goes against the most important things I stand for, or if I’m asked to compromise in such a big way for what I believe to be right, then I have to lose my job.
Rau belongs to a union, the Amalgamated Transit Union, that so far has no said whether it will support drivers who feel the way Rau does.
Doug Morgan, director of Calgary Transit, says drivers can only refuse to work based on safety issues:
What we would do is open a dialogue with them and chat with them and ask them about their issues and making sure we’re being sensitive to their beliefs, but overall the service has to go out and we would ask them to drive the bus.
The issue of personal beliefs and how they affect job responsibilities has been much in the headlines lately. The most prominent story is that of Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who is in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, claiming as Jesse Rau has that it violates her religious beliefs. In a somewhat similar story, a Muslim flight attendant was suspended by the airline she works for for refusing to serve alcohol and has filed a lawsuit.