Minnesota Taxi Drivers Seek Religious Exemptions

| Wed Oct. 18, 2006 8:40 PM PDT

It's hard enough to get a taxi in some places if you are not Caucasion, but it's becoming even harder, in some cities, to get one if you do not fit the driver's religious ideal of a passenger. For example, in London, two Muslim taxi drivers were fined for refusing to pick up a blind customer. The same thing has happened repeatedly in Melbouren. The reason? The customer's seeing-eye dog was "unclean." In Minneapolis, Muslim taxi drivers have refused to pick up a transgendered customer. And throughout Minnesota, taxi drivers are seeking a two-tiered system that would permit them to refuse to pick up certain fares because of their own religious beliefs.

This is how the system would work: If a driver refuses to pick you up because you are gay, transgendered, have a seeing-eye dog, are carrying a "forbidden" book, have a peace symbol on your briefcase, or are a woman with part of your abdomen showing (I could go on and on), you go to the back of the queue until someone finds you acceptable enough to ride in his or her cab.

Katherine Kersten of the Minneapolis Star Tribune says:

And what if Muslim drivers demand the right not to transport women wearing short skirts or tank tops, or unmarried couples? After taxis, why not buses, trains and planes? Eventually, in some respects, our society could be divided along religious lines.

Pam Spaulding, writing in Pandagon, says:

I hate to break it to the Star Tribune's Katherine Kersten, but we already are divided. "Christian" pharmacists in some parts of the country are allowed to refuse filling a prescription if they object on religious principles to the use of the drug.
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