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  HONEYMOON'S OVER

Couple Sues For Right To Hold Wedding In Homophobic Bed And Breakfasts

Last year when Todd and Mark Wathen asked both the Beall Mansion and Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast to host their wedding ceremony, the Beall Mansion said that they only host “traditional weddings” and the Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast responded, “We will never host same-sex civil unions. We will never host same-sex weddings even if they become legal in Illinois. We believe homosexuality is wrong and unnatural based on what the Bible says about it. If that is discrimination, I guess we unfortunately discriminate.” So instead the Wathens decided to hold their wedding in their own backyard and then sue the bed and breakfasts in civil court for violating their human rights.

The anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund representing Timber Creek depicts the Wathen’s case as “religious rights versus homosexual rights.” You see, the Wathens contacted both places before the state’s civil unions law came into effect, a law which also provides religious exceptions for groups that don’t recognize civil unions. But those exemptions exist mainly to protect churches from lawsuits, not to let individual businesses refuse service to homos.

So now it boils down to whether “the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act—which protects religious freedoms from government intrusion—can trump the state’s Human Rights Act, which includes the protection of people based on sexual orientation.”

While it’s important to let businesses know that they can’t legally discriminate against us, perhaps we should start a register of anti-LGBT businesses so that we can know which ones to avoid and which ones to give our hard-earned money. While not all businesses want to work with rainbows, most of them certainly love the color green.

Image via SteakPinball

By:           Daniel Villarreal
On:           Sep 19, 2011
Tagged: , , , , , , ,

  • 27 Comments
    • Wolfgang
      Wolfgang

      I would have had the ceremony at a gay-friendly venue and then sent the bigoted owners of this place the final invoice with a little note ‘this is how much money you could’ve made, assholes. glad to hear that in the current climate you can pick and choose!’, with cc: local media :-)

      Sep 19, 2011 at 12:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Pocket Otter
      Pocket Otter

      I understand the whole “You’re violating my civil rights” argument, but wouldn’t it have been more reasonable (not to mention noble and mature) for these guys to have simply sought out a seperate location to marry? But because of their stubborness, their nuptials will always be marred by the memory of battle. Way to start a life together, guys.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The crustybastard
      The crustybastard

      @Pocket Otter:

      Their nuptials were marred by bigotry. Don’t blame the victims.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • phallus
      phallus

      @crustybastard; Look up the definition of the word “victim”. I don’t think they were “victims” in this case.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AedanRoberts
      AedanRoberts

      I really like this idea- and bigoted anti-gay business registry. I think it needs to be something every town/city should have available along with big corporations. Instead of hang to read an article here and there about Urban Outfitters donating to Rick Frothymix or the local Inn refusing to work with GBLT individuals I could simply cross-check my plans with the registry and alter them accordingly.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • akn
      akn

      I agree that publicizing local lists of businesses that are hostile to gays is more effective (and less expensive!) than lawsuits. Honestly, I think the First Ammendment freedom of association, along with religious freedom exceptions to non-discrimination laws, are in some cases sufficient to allow private businesses to discriminate against LGBT folks (especially in areas where a gay-friendly alternative business is available). And we would do better to retaliate by withholding our dollars than by spurring the ol’ ADF into action again and again…

      Sep 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 2 · Pocket Otter wrote, ‘I understand the whole “You’re violating my civil rights” argument, but wouldn’t it have been more reasonable (not to mention noble and mature) for these guys to have simply sought out a seperate location to marry?’

      They found a separate location to marry. The lawsuit is justified because, compared to straight couples, they were forced to spend more effort at finding a venue, on the average would have to spend more (you may have to forgo the least expensive choice), and on the average more time traveling (the closest venue might be off limits to you).

      Keep in mind that this country is in serious economic trouble, and increasing productivity is the least painful way out of the mess. You don’t increase productivity by making people spend more time on what should be a trivial task.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jim Hlavac
      Jim Hlavac

      There are so many gay-friendly businesses, why taunt the ones who still can’t handle it? We want to be left alone, right? Well, leave them alone until they can handle it. This process of our acceptance must come through gentle persuasion and example, not a lawsuit. Particularly one almost designed to cause a fracas, as if these guys thought it was a lottery ticket and they won the money already. 35 and 40 years ago we had virtually no gay-friendly anything; save a few bars. Now we got half the nation on our side; and not because of lawsuits, but because we talked calmly to people, like, oh, family and friends.

      If these people fundamentalists want to live constrained lives, like say the Amish or Orthodox Jews, let them.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JAW
      JAW

      The registry sounds Great… Both for the anit as well as the pro gay businesses… Even things like buying a car… VW is pro Gay… yet there are dealers that are not… we should find the pro businesses and support them

      Sep 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Allen D.
      Allen D.

      One of the biggest issues when it comes to marriage equality is that churches with anti-gay views don’t want to be forced to perform same sex marriages.

      And now we’re suing because some couple was so determined to have a homophobic business host their wedding.

      I think it’s really fucked up. This is definitely going to do more harm than good on the marriage front. Way to go jackasses.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PopSnap
      PopSnap

      I agree 100% with Pocket Otter. If a business discriminated against me for being gay, I’d say “too bad” and take my dollar elsewhere, along with letting others in the LGBT community know about the homophobic business. Maybe even a letter to the newspaper would work to get the word out.

      I certainly wouldn’t sue their asses off and FORCE them to marry me. Way to prove the bigots right, guys.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JayKay
      JayKay

      I can’t stand these obnoxious, entitled, little fucks who think the freedom of association should be erased from the constitution simply because someone’s feelings might get hurt.

      Business owners should have a set-in-stone right to discriminate against anyone for any reason. If I owned a hotel with a nice conference room and NOM wanted to rent it out, I’d want to tell them to get fucked without having to worry about being sued for violating their…ahem…human rights.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Trip
      Trip

      These two losers are acting out the exact predictions made by the anti-gay-marriage faction. In the same way gays don’t want other people to force their beliefs on homos, we should not force our beliefs on those who choose to think differently. Nobody has the “right” to marry at a bed and breakfast. And, frankly, why would you want to have anything to do with a place that didn’t want you? There are plenty of places that will gladly take pink money, so spend it in those places. This is so aggravating. They’re giving the rest of us a bad name.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 12 · JayKay wrote, “I can’t stand these obnoxious, entitled, little fucks who think the freedom of association should be erased from the constitution simply because someone’s feelings might get hurt.”

      At the risk of a civics lesson, such civil-rights laws (The Unruh Civil Rights Act in California is a good example, and that was passed in 1959, plus there is a federal law as well) have been around for decades and are in fact constitutional (citation – http://www.legalzoom.com/us-law/equal-rights/right-refuse-service ). Initially these laws dealt with racial discrimination but have been extended over the years, sometimes at the state level rather than the federal level, to broaden the number of classes of people covered. Such laws deal with issues such as employment, housing, and “public accommodations.” You can associated with whomever you like, but you can’t run a restaurant, at least in California, that doesn’t allow gay customers.

      It’s a reasonable law – a gay couple living in a conservative area (maybe because they work there) should not have to drive a hundred miles to find a restaurant that they can go to or a store where they can buy food. Such discriminatory behavior hurts all of us – if you make life for members of a minority so miserable that it affects their ability to function at work, you end up either reducing productivity or putting more people on the dole. And all of us end up paying for that, one way or another.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dave
      Dave

      @Wolfgang-I agree. Why give this venue and these businesspeople any business or money, and help them out?

      Sep 19, 2011 at 11:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PopSnap
      PopSnap

      @B

      In an ideal world, I would agree. And legally, you and the couple in question are in the right. However, there is such a thing as “picking your battles” and these two didn’t choose theirs wisely. Why not spend money at an LGBT-friendly bed and breakfast? Why turn this into some huge ordeal?

      Also, I live in Ohio and I know many rural gay couples. Not once have I heard of ANY of them ever being denied service at a restaurant or store. I mean, what if they were brothers? Friends? It’s not as if gayness is measurable by looking at someone like being black is. In this instance, it was obvious that they were gay because they expressly stated their desire to hold a same-sex wedding.

      I fully support laws that make public-sector discrimination illegal, as do I support gay marriage in every State (obviously), but there really is no need to rile up the crazy fundies every single time one of them behaves in a bigoted manner, as is their nature. That will turn public opinion away from us faster than you can say Obama.

      Let’s flip the tables. Say you and your same-sex partner owned an LGBT bed and breakfast. This is never outright stated, but heavily implied. Here comes a Bible-thumping, gun-toting, right wing “dem homos is stealin’ are freedoms” family that wants to rent out the place for a wedding. They are also very blatant in their disapproval of you being gay, and you’ve seen their church picketing at pride parades before, but hey, they think you own a pretty bed & breakfast so they want to rent the place out. Would you turn them down?

      Sep 19, 2011 at 11:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      This lawsuit is stupid and gives currency to the anti-gay argument that if we get marriage equality, we’ll sue to force anti-gay churches and other venues to host our events.

      We should accept that, well, there are going to be people who don’t like us, and trying to bully them into accepting us through the law will only lead to more backlash and give currency to their claim that we seek equal treatment under the law NOT as citizens — but as a way to compel everyone to accept us. Not cool.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 11:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      “a gay couple living in a conservative area (maybe because they work there) should not have to drive a hundred miles to find a restaurant that they can go to or a store where they can buy food”

      Exceptionally stupid analogy. This isn’t a dry goods store refusing to sell food to a gay couple, this is a B&B (where the owner lives) saying that he doesn’t feel comfortable hosting a same-sex wedding reception.

      Rather than accept that he disagrees, the couple is launching a legal war to compel acceptance through the law and humiliate the anti-gay morons who own the venue.

      When the goal is compelled public humiliation, the argument isn’t about “equal access to public accommodation” — it’s about using force to compel people who don’t agree with us into accepting us (like it or not).

      I often flip around the common cases to show how utterly unacceptable this truly is. Imagine if an anti-gay Christian group sued an LGBT center for the “right” to hold an anti-gay political event there. Imagine if a gay designer was forced by the law to design and produce anti-gay literature for Focus on the Family.

      This is just as abhorrent as those two situations. Living in a free society means you have the right to say “no.”

      Sep 19, 2011 at 11:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Codswallop
      Codswallop

      Things like this just give ammunition to the Religious Right when they say they’ll be forced to compromise their religious beliefs, stupid as we think those beliefs are. By all means get the word out that the owners of this B&B are homophobic assholes so gay people and our allies will not give them business, but leave them to their hateful reindeer games. What if Tony Perkins or some other high-profile homophobe came into a business you owned? I’d want to be able to tell him to GTFO and kiss my ass on his way to the door.

      Sep 19, 2011 at 11:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • the crustybastard
      the crustybastard

      @PopSnap: It’s not as if gayness is measurable by looking at someone like being black is.

      Homer Plessy looked white enough to board a first-class “whites only” railcar, but was black enough to be arrested for it when he disclosed his identity.

      He’s the Plessy in Plessy v Ferguson. Heard of it? That was the landmark 1896 decision that entrenched segregation in American law until overturned by Brown v Board of Ed in 1954.

      Yet here I regard the utterly bizarre spectacle of gay people embracing the specious and discredited reasoning of Plessy, as it would be applied against them.

      What a fucked up world.

      Sep 20, 2011 at 10:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Troy
      Troy

      It’s tricky because some businesses are able to refuse to serve someone FOR ANY REASON. HOwever, I don’t like this whole thing here: I feel that if you are to be open to he PUBLIC, you should serve the PUBLIC. Private businesses and things, I honestly don’t understand the whole thing behind that. Yet, even PRIVATE businesses want money from the public so I feel that ultimately they should have the wedding there.

      The Constitution was made to protect PEOPLE, not BELIEFS!

      I don’t like the whole separate but equal with gay marriages

      Sep 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jakey
      Jakey

      @Troy: “It’s tricky because some businesses are able to refuse to serve someone FOR ANY REASON.”

      Yeah, but they’re really not though, so it’s not very tricky. Putting up a sign saying “WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE FOR ANY REASON” doesn’t make it an actual right, because that right doesn’t exist. Even if they’re in a state without its own discrimination laws, there are still the federal ones.

      Sep 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Allen D.
      Allen D. [Different person #1 using similar name]

      Great, the next arguments will be “if a church lets the general public worship there, then they have to perform marriages for everyone in the general public!”

      Fuck that. These guys are assholes & setting back the marriage fight. I’ve reassured countless right-wing friends “no, that would never happen”… but look, here we are – with a private business. Yay.

      Ugh.

      Sep 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike in Asheville
      Mike in Asheville

      @Allen D.: No Allen, you are the fucking asshole — it is you who is deliberately comparing churches and public accommodation businesses.

      The common law is quite clear and has been reenshrined in all marriage equality laws. Churches/mosques/temples are not required to act as public accommodations and are clearly entitled by the First Amendment to pick and choose whomever they select for members, marriages, or any other services and ceremonies.

      Businesses are required to fulfill nondiscrimination policies as public accommodations. ALL TAXPAYERS, gay and straight, underwrite the public streets, sewer systems, police and fire departments, etc., and ALL CITIZENS are equally entitled that their support of public accommodations are met with nondiscriminatory practices.

      You are acting like these teabagging morons with your petty temper tampers insulting the rest of us who are sick and tired of others trampling our rights to pursue our happiness. B&Bs/hotels receive great benefits from my tax dollars for the many public services the community provides over-and-above other businesses with tourist awareness and promotion programs, and they should not be able to discriminate against me, or by any class status. Grow a pair.

      Sep 21, 2011 at 9:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Allen D.
      Allen D. [Different person #1 using similar name]

      It’s a private business (furthermore, since the proprietor of the B&B also lives there — they are exempt from fair housing / rental / accommodation laws). Look up fair housing laws, idiot.

      Despite being a B&B, you’re saying that the owner can’t discriminate in who they have stay in their OWN HOME. That’s absolute bullshit.

      Since I benefit from public streets, etc — does that mean that I have to let Pat Robertson stay in MY home?

      So, “grow a pair” yourself & fuck off.

      Sep 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 16 · PopSnap wrote, “@B In an ideal world, I would agree. And legally, you and the couple in question are in the right. However, there is such a thing as “picking your battles” and these two didn’t choose theirs wisely. Why not spend money at an LGBT-friendly bed and breakfast? Why turn this into some huge ordeal?”

      If you read the article QUEERTY linked to, it said, “The couple wanted to hold the event somewhere quaint in central Illinois, a place that would be convenient to family in Kentucky and Indiana and to their home in Mattoon. They reached out to two bed and breakfast establishments — and in each case the owners told the Wathens they were not willing to host a civil union.” Maybe they got tired of calling people. I tried a Google
      search and most of the things I found were near Chicago.

      Regarding, “Let’s flip the tables. Say you and your same-sex partner owned an LGBT bed and breakfast. This is never outright stated, but heavily implied. Here comes a Bible-thumping, gun-toting, right wing “dem homos is stealin’ are freedoms” family that wants to rent out the place for a wedding. They are also very blatant in their disapproval of you being gay, and you’ve seen their church picketing at pride parades before, but hey, they think you own a pretty bed & breakfast so they want to rent the place out. Would you turn them down?” ….

      well, given the law I wouldn’t turn them down. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t invite the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to enjoy the premises for coincidentally the same weekend! Why not? Someone once told me about going to a high-tech trade show in Las Vegas, only to find that the “adult entertainment” industry was holding an event in the different set of rooms at the same location. It actually may have been a good fit – the porno guys need lots of high-performance servers to handle all that streaming video.

      Sep 24, 2011 at 1:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Carson Rhodes
      Carson Rhodes

      “…perhaps we should start a register of anti-LGBT businesses so that we can know which ones to avoid and which ones to give our hard-earned money.”

      We already have that. It’s called the Corporate Equality Index. I don’t give a fuck what your personal vendettas are against HRC – I just know that they do a great job of examining a business to discover it’s stance on LGBT people, not to mention keeping the Index up to date. Check it out.

      Sep 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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