The New York couple’s dream of using the inn for what should have been the happiest day of their lives was quickly dashed when the Wildflower’s events manager told Ming’s mother the inn didn’t host “gay receptions” out of respect for the owners’ “personal feelings.” At which point the Linsleys contacted the American Civil Liberties Union.
However, the Wildflower’s innkeepers, Jim and Mary O’Reilly, and their lawyer Jim Campbell, insist the whole thing was a misunderstanding. According to the AP:
[Campbell said] the inn was willing to host same-sex wedding receptions, despite the O’Reillys’ opposition to same-sex marriage, based on their Catholic faith. Campbell, who works with the Alliance Defending Freedom, said an employee was acting without the owners’ permission when she emailed Ming Linsley’s mother, rejecting the request.
“A former Wildflower employee sparked the lawsuit when she falsely claimed that the inn would not allow a same-sex reception,” the alliance said in a statement. “The inn’s actual business practice, which the Vermont Human Rights Commission approved in 2005, was to honestly disclose its owners’ religious convictions to potential customers while agreeing to serve everyone in accordance with the law.”
The Linsleys and the O’Reillys have settled their lawsuit with the Wildflower Inn agreeing to pay a $10,000 fine to the Vermont Human Rights Commission, set aside $20,000 in a charitable trust and no longer host weddings and receptions. Campbell said the O’Reillys had previously decided on ending that part of their business anyway.
“We’re glad that the Wildflower Inn has recognized that the way we were treated was wrong and that no other family will have to experience what we did,” Ming Linsley said in a statement released by the ACLU. “Although we found a different location and had a beautiful day, all families should feel welcome at any resort that’s open to the public.
Photo: Mike Licht