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ACLU, lesbian couple sue Vermont inn over its ‘no gay reception policy’

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
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A Vermont inn violated the state’s anti-discrimination law when it refused to host a wedding reception for a lesbian couple from New York City, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Wildflower Inn

The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Vermont chapter on behalf of Kate Baker and Ming Linsley, said the couple was turned away last fall because of the inn’s owner has a “no-gay-reception policy.”

According to the complaint, Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, Vermont refused to host a wedding reception for New York couple Kate Baker and Ming Linsley because of the owners’ personal bias against same-sex couples.

It was Linsley’s mother who was told the inn does not host “gay receptions,” particularly stinging to a mom trying to help her daughter plan the special day, the couple said.

According to the suit, at least two other couples have been turned away by the resort in the past 12 months.

According to the ACLU, the Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act prohibits public accommodations from denying goods and services based on customers’ sexual orientation. The law applies to inns, restaurants, schools, stores, and any other business that serves the general public.

The act contains exceptions for religious organizations and small inns with five or fewer rooms, bu the ACLU asserts the Wildflower Inn fits neither category. The inn is a multimillion-dollar public business whose slogan is “Four Seasons for Everyone!”

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.

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