Lesbian Couple Settles Lawsuit With Vermont Inn That Refused To Host Their Wedding Reception

The Linsleys, Ming and Kate, have settled their lawsuit with Vermont’s Wildflower Inn, after the latter had refused to host their wedding reception.

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

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  • GayTampaCowboy

    Hit bigots where it hurts – in their pocketbook!

  • EdWoody

    @GayTampaCowboy: If the story is to be believed, it’s not the actual bigot who got hit in the pocket book here. The owners are religious but non-discriminatory, which is as it should be. The former employee is the one who is the bigot (again, assuming the story is to be believed), and he or she may be out of a job but they’re not paying any multi-thousand-dollar fine.

  • jacknasty

    I’m not sure how I feel about these stories. My personal beliefs are all for a same sex wedding reception, but if I owned an event space I would like the right to decide which types of events I do and don’t want to host. What happens when somebody refuses to allow members of the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church to have an event, will they be able to sue over it too?

  • Neo

    @jacknasty: No because those are hate groups. There is a massive difference between two loving people wanting a rentable space for an event and a violent hate group.

  • GeriHew

    It’s going to take a few more generations for everyone to get used to the concept of equal marriage.

Comments are closed.