Follow breaking news @lgbtqnation
Around the Nation

Illinois

Illinois couple files complaint against inns for refusing to host same-sex ceremony

Friday, November 4, 2011

An Illinois gay couple has filed complaints with the state’s Human Rights Commission against two bed-and-breakfast inns that have allegedly refused to host their civil union ceremony, telling the couple they only host “traditional weddings” and that the Bible says that “homosexuality is wrong.”

Todd and Mark Wathen of Mattoon, Ill., allege that both the Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast in Paxton, Ill., and the Beall Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Alton, Ill., discriminated against them by refusing to host their legally recognized ceremony, reported the Windy City Times.

Mark (left) and Todd Wathen

Illinois legalized civil unions for same-sex couples earlier this year.

According to the complaints, filed individually on behalf of both Mark and Todd, the Wathens inquired with the inns in February, in anticipation of having a ceremony when civil unions went into effect in June. Both of the inns turned them away, they said.

“We were thrilled that Illinois provided legal recognition to our relationship,” said Todd Wathen in the statement. “It hurt to face this blatant discrimination just as the state was making such progress in treating lesbian and gay couples fairly.”

The complaint alleges that Jim Belote, Beall Mansion owner, told Todd Wathen in an email that his inn was only performing “traditional weddings.”

[...]

Following their lack of success booking at the Beall Mansion, the Wathens contacted Jim Walden at Timber Creek. In an email response to their inquiry, Walden told Todd Wathen that his inn would “never” host same-sex civil unions or weddings because “we believe homosexuality is wrong and unnatural based on what the bible says about it.”

According to the complaints, Walden followed his response unsolicited three days later, citing verses on how “The Creator of the Earth looks at the gay lifestyle.”

“It is not too late to change your behavior,” the email stated. “He is loving and kind and ready to forgive all men their trespasses, including me.”

The couple, who has been together nearly ten years, has filed complaints with the Illinois Attorney General’s office and the Dept. of Human Rights alleging violations of the Illinois Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by businesses open to the public.

The attorney general’s office is “reviewing the case to determine if these individuals may have been discriminated against over their sexual orientation,” said Robyn Ziegler, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office. “If so, that would be a violation of the state’s civil rights law.”

Archives: , , , , , , , ,

Filed under: Illinois

30 more reader comments:

  1. And the bible also says to love one another. These people should read the bible, instead of picking out what’s convenient for them.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:36pm
  2. I hope they win. This homophobia crap has got to stop.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:37pm
  3. im with you Scott

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:40pm
  4. To be honest, to most people, they have been raised to believe that homosexuality is immoral. If it’s the inns personal preference to not host this type of union, then the easiest thing to do is find a different one. While I do think it’s wrong to deny someone this event, we all have to look at it from both sides. Let’s all be thankful this whole event didn’t have an violence.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:45pm
  5. aweful…i hope they win trial & a good example is shown for such inhumane, predjudice, & unexceptable treatment!

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:46pm
  6. Whats funny is I called this bed and breakfast and they were very happy to hear to that we were thinking of them for our civil union ceremony… And told us if we need any help with anything they would be more than happy to help us…

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:49pm
  7. I agree with Nicole… to me, this borders on a frivolous lawsuit and plays into the hands of those who claim that there is a “gay” agenda. The unsolicited e-mails are certainly a different case.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:53pm
  8. I the inn has every rights to deny it. The couple could have just look elsewhere.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:54pm
  9. that’s wrong…

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 5:59pm
  10. And here I thought all money was green. They’re not asking for the Inn’s blessing, just the facilities.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 6:12pm
  11. We also need to not spend our dollars with them. Even though North Carolina is behind the times in allowing same sex marrage my husband and I had our wedding reception at our restaraunt and a vast array of islanders came out and celebrated with us ..check our photos on HATTERAS ISLAND DREAMS on FB

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 6:14pm
  12. so the inn should advertise that they only cater to straight couples. or would that be homophobic and open tjem up to a lawsuit. cant have two sets of rules in the great land of opportunity for all.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 6:47pm
  13. @janice – which law states that the inn has a right to turn away business?

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 6:52pm
  14. But then what do you expect from the country that murdered millions of Native Americans and then make a national holiday of it. Ironicaly its called Thansgiving.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 6:57pm
  15. Why are we willing to give bigotry such a pass? They violated the law. Most likely, they’ve been advised not to do it again, so it’s no surprise that they acted accepting of another couple’s inquiry. I wouldn’t do business with anyone who opposed our legal marriage, but neither would I tolerate their discrimination.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 7:01pm
  16. “o me, this borders on a frivolous lawsuit and plays into the hands of those who claim that there is a “gay” agenda”

    so… we shouldn’t fight discrimination?
    Are you SERIOUS?

    And yeah, there IS a gay agenda:
    “Become equal citizens”

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 7:06pm
  17. @Mike Smith and Nicole Marie Stiltner: Your arguments of “just shuffle on down the road”, accept the discrimination and find another place are so Jim Crow. Your weak spine philosophy and fear of a “gay agenda label” (it’s actually just wanting EQUAL RIGHTS not special rights in case you were wondering Mike) are what cause women who need and want birth control to be denied access to same because some high holy roller pharmacist refuses to dispense them. Religious discrimination is for Religious Entities. When you enter the commercial marketplace you need to check your illegal discriminatory attitudes at the door and serve all customers.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 7:18pm
  18. Sorry why do gay people want in on a heterosexual institution that upholds patriarchy and subordinates women?

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 7:40pm
  19. uh,…Illinois,it’s 21st century,come join us,we don’t bite <3

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 10:51pm
  20. its their right to refuse service.. and secondly.. why be somewhere your not wanted.. its better to accepted than simply tolerated.. i would have bounced and found somewhere where im celebrated uncoditionally.. just sayin..

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 11:07pm
  21. There should be a law – that if you discriminate based on religeon, race, sexual orientation, whatever & you own a business? You have to advertise that little fact.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 11:14pm
  22. I don’t think this is right. Just as religious institutions should not be forced to perform same sex unions if they choose not to, a privately owned b and b should not be forced either.

    Posted on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 12:03am
  23. HEY ILLINOIS!! Abe Lincoln’s dead~~get over it. It’s now 2011 and everything but bullets has changed. Get with it!!

    Posted on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 5:00am
  24. Wow, makes me proud to be an Illinoisian…NOT!

    Posted on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 7:20am
  25. They should sue the fed gov for lacking over 2000 civil rights and not stop until it is fed law and in the constiution!

    Posted on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 8:44am
  26. Yes its discrimination and homophobia. had they tried this at a hotel chain i would say the have a suit but bed and breakfasts are often times peoples homes. i agree with gustavo, i wouldnt want to be where im not welcomed. its suits like this that hinder our fight to get equal rights!marriage. many people are against it simply because they are afraid it will be shoved in their faces which to me is what they want to do with this suit.they are afraid if its legal they will be force to have same sex wedding at their churches (and there are some who would sue because they cant use a certain church) same sex marriage should be legal everywhere but not forced. the only one that should be required is a public official at the court house issueing the liscense, who officiates is up to the couple being married.

    Posted on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 10:57am
  27. Glad that you replied fopr the 2 guys which action is for their rights to be respected! Hugs!

    Posted on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 11:29am
  28. Hey Gustavo,
    If you would have read the article, it says they DON’T have a right to discrimminate based on sexual orientation. It’s under their new Human Rights Law. I wish people would read the entire article before commenting on it.

    Posted on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 4:11pm
  29. Burn those places down. Then they won’t be hosting anyone.

    Posted on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 7:36pm
  30. I think this is bad, but we do not want to be seen as doing anything remotely close to violating ‘religious freedom’. I do not think that the B&B should be forced to host the ceremony, but they better have been upfront about it and should have suggested alternatives.

    Posted on Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 12:33pm