MOLINE, Ill. — A same-sex couple from Davenport, Iowa this week said they were told they could not rent a reception hall in neighboring Moline, Ill., because the couple is gay.
A manager at the University Club in downtown Moline, located about five miles east of Davenport, told WQAD-TV that she refused to let the couple see or rent the space because of her religious beliefs.
Taylor Shumaker says she called the University Club on Tuesday to inquire about the place. Bar Manager Kristen Stewart offered to give Shumaker a tour and asked if her fiance would be coming.
“And she asked if ‘he’ would be coming and I just said no, it’s not actually a ‘he.’ It’s a ‘she,’ and she said excuse me?” recounted Shumaker.
“I said, it’s a woman, and she said oh, we don’t rent to homosexual couples.”
Stewart defended her right to refuse service to the lesbian couple, and stated that as “a biblical Christian,” she does not believe in same-sex marriage.
“Because marriage is a covenant that God created for man and woman, as a biblical Christian, I cannot help them into or celebrate that sin,” said Stewart.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa where Shumaker resides, but not in Illinois.
However, Stewart’s refusal to accommodate the couple may be illegal under the Illinois Department of Human Rights Act, which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Stewart’s husband — whose family owns the club — later said his wife “misspoke” and there’s no ban on same-sex marriage in his club.
Terry Stewart said he will make a donation to a gay and lesbian organization to make amends for offending the community, and that his wife will no longer be in charge of new bookings.