Catholic innkeepers sued for refusing to host gay wedding

It happened in Vermont, over a reception that was slated to be held at the inn pictured below.


A Vermont inn violated state anti-discrimination rules by refusing to host the wedding reception for two New York City women, the couple said in a lawsuit Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Vermont chapter on behalf of Kate Baker and Ming Linsley, said the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville turned away the couple last fall and that at least two other same-sex couples were also refused because of the inn’s owner has a “no-gay-reception policy.”

“When the Wildflower Inn told us last fall that they don’t host gay receptions, we were obviously saddened and shocked,” said Baker. “It was frustrating to be treated like lesser than the rest of the society, and we were also surprised that it happened in Vermont.”

Vermont has been a pioneer in gay rights, creating the concept of civil unions for same-sex couple in 2000. In 2009, it legalized gay marriage. Many of its tourism businesses actively market to gay clientele.

The inn’s owners, Jim and Mary O’Reilly, issued a statement saying they are devout Catholics who believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.

“We have never refused rooms or dining or employment to gays or lesbians,” they wrote. “Many of our guests have been same-sex couples. We welcome and treat all people with respect and dignity. We do not however, feel that we can offer our personal services wholeheartedly to celebrate the marriage between same-sex couples because it goes against everything that we as Catholics believe in.”

The innkeepers said they never spoke to Baker and Linsley, but that the inn’s wedding coordinator “did not handle the couple’s request in the manner that it should have been.”

Baker, 31, and Linsley, 34, who live in Brooklyn, said at a Statehouse news conference announcing the lawsuit Tuesday that they have since found another location for the reception but that they filed suit on principle.

They say refusing to serve gay and lesbian couples is illegal and wrong.

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