Bed-and-Breakfasts Refuse to Host Gay Civil Union, Sparking Lawsuit

Bed-and-breakfast Two gay men, Todd and Mark Wathen, wanted to hold their civil union ceremony in a bed-and-breakfast in Illinois. Their wish was denied, twice, because bed-and-breakfasts are pillars of straightness

The Beall Mansion in Alton told the Wathens via email that it "will just be doing traditional weddings." The owner of the Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast in Paxton wrote in an email to the couple: "We will never host same-sex civil unions. We will never host same-sex weddings even if they become legal in Illinois. We believe homosexuality is wrong and unnatural based on what the Bible says about it. If that is discrimination, I guess we unfortunately discriminate."

"After all this happened, I just didn't even want to talk about the wedding," said Todd Wathen. "It took an event we had looked forward to for years and ruined it."

After the couple filed a complaint, the state's human rights commission found "substantial evidence" of a civil rights violation. Now the couple is suing

But attorneys for the establishments say they were exercising freedom of religion. With bed-and-breakfasts becoming culture-war battlegrounds in similar disputes across the country, this case could be major - the Brown v. Board of Education of bed-and-breakfasts.

Picture 24UPDATE
: Maybe the two should just be thankful they were rejected. If the 2006 film Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror taught us anything, it's to always avoid bed-and-breakfasts run by googly-eyed homophobes. It's not just the false hospitality - it's being hunted

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  1. do they also refuse to marry couples who are not virgins? how about non-Christian couples, or interfaith couples?

    i'm just curious. does their religion only apply to gays, or to (you know) things like other faiths or even Atheism?

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Sep 17, 2011 3:14:06 PM

  2. Perhaps maybe open up their own inclusive bed and breakfast and kick the non inclusive bed and breakfast businesses to the curb?

    Posted by: Matt Munson | Sep 17, 2011 3:17:15 PM

  3. The solution is not a lawsuit but a publicity campaign about their bigotry.

    Posted by: Gunga Dean | Sep 17, 2011 3:18:27 PM

  4. Wait. Did they really only have one location in mind? Any homosexual will tell you that's just poor event planning.
    Until these people fire someone for being gay it sounds like their being respectful (despite being intolerant).

    Posted by: Paul | Sep 17, 2011 3:20:12 PM

  5. concur. i'm glad these people discriminated. and i hope they go out of business because of it.

    all LGBT people, and non-bigoted straight people, should be passing this information around. bigotry cannot win.

    truly, i hope they go out of business, and they WILL if it's publicized enough. let's get to WERK!

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Sep 17, 2011 3:20:13 PM

  6. I wonder if lawsuits against these small-fry is really the way to go? It brings too much sympathy and martyr complexes to these small establishments. And it gives them too much of a platform to tout their Bible-based "values." I wonder if it might be more effective to publicize the matter and let prospective customers shun them.

    Posted by: melka | Sep 17, 2011 3:24:18 PM

  7. As far as I'm concerned let them be bigots I'd just make sure I plastered it all over YELP, FACEBOOK and every other social network website I could find about what scumbags they are. Once their business dries up then they can pray for money to survive, because if they are such good bible thumpers should their sky friend rain money down on them?

    Posted by: Akula | Sep 17, 2011 3:24:47 PM

  8. Easy enough. Google both locations and write reviews, with links to this story. Yelp, expedia, etc., etc. Tweet the info.

    Posted by: EO | Sep 17, 2011 3:30:28 PM

  9. Agreed @Akula and @Mekula... I mean good luck on their lawsuit, but a good publicity campaign is better- cuz they ( religious bigots) whine and cry about "small businesses" being targeted by the Big Bad Gays, and it does create these martyr cases out of the discrimators and bigots. If it wa a huge chain or corporation- I'd say do a PR campaign and sue 'Em. In this case, just talk and blog about it til they have to close down.

    Not necessarily saying they're the same thing, but that's what happened in the 60's and 70's- people learned that you made more money and wasn't profitable to discriminate against racial minorities.

    Posted by: Scott | Sep 17, 2011 3:34:54 PM

  10. Why don't these people go to where they're wanted? Why FIGHT to hold a civil union in a hostile venue?

    Also: What gives us the right to think we can hold our civil unions & marriages ANYWHERE we want? This really IS "special rights". We've come to a sorry place where we are simply litigating everything. I don't WANT to live in a world where we have the right to trample on other people's values. Live and let live. Stop this nonsense!

    Posted by: will | Sep 17, 2011 3:35:27 PM

  11. Honestly, I think they should move on and have their wedding elsewhere. I don't understand why they let these people ruin their day for them. They are not worth any attention, good or bad.

    Posted by: Kári Emil | Sep 17, 2011 3:37:02 PM

  12. I completely agree with Will's statement... 100%. Why would you want to have your once-in-a-lifetime special event held at a place that hates you? ...and why would you want to give money to a bunch of homophobic bigots? Because that is EXACTLY what will happen if you force this religious couple to comply. It makes NO sense. YES, what they're doing is morally wrong. But you can't legally force everyone to approve of you and cater to you. It's NEVER going to happen. Fight the battles that are worth fighting for.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Sep 17, 2011 3:41:58 PM

  13. They aren't suing to force them to be allowed to have their ceremony there. Or even for money. But to teach them that what they were doing is wrong.

    An inn is maybe a bad example as it involves a more continued interaction with the owners - so that can be unpleasant if they are hostile. But take a bridal shop (as recently happened in New Jersey) or a bakery, where you just buy stuff. You simply can't allow public businesses to discriminate against whoever they want. And some states have clear laws against that. The same issue came up during desegregation and the solution wasn't "simply go somewhere where they don't hate blacks"

    Posted by: Steve | Sep 17, 2011 3:44:40 PM

  14. This is an issue of public accommodation. You can't have businesses which refuse to provide service based upon sexual orientation. Arguments of "don't go where you're not wanted" ring a bit hollow. Where would blacks be today if they only used "colored" facilities. So I completely understand the lawsuit. In the meantime, we should also publicize the bigotry. Gay or Gay Friendly $$$ shouldn't be spent there. (btw, I hate B&Bs.... to "quaint" for me. LOL...)

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 17, 2011 3:50:47 PM


    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Sep 17, 2011 3:51:18 PM

  16. Mike's right.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 17, 2011 4:02:20 PM

  17. @will @davidinhouston

    I have no patience for self-loathing homos. To follow your logic, the owners should also have the option of declining to host, for instance, a black couple or an interracial couple.

    There's a choice for the owners to make: Do business legally and uniformly or don't do business at all.

    Posted by: JayJay | Sep 17, 2011 4:18:12 PM

  18. are the Bible inspired discriminatory B&B folks the same folks who "are frequent public speakers for the bed & breakfast and hospitality industry"?

    "I do not feel challenged by organized religion. In some cases it is helpful, and often is harmful." Morris Kight

    Posted by: Steve | Sep 17, 2011 4:34:29 PM

  19. I'm still of the opinion that the essence of deomocracy is we all have to learn to live with each other and not force our will onto what I am assuming is essentially a small mom-and-pop operation.

    How is it that the very people who think we have a constituional right to hold a gay civil union at this place also feel that hate groups don't have rights to protest gays at military funerals? From what I see, all of our clamouring for rights is pretty much a one-way street.

    We've made astonishing successes in public opinion and law over the past 10 years. And it's not because we stood outside anti-gay organizations and threw glitter. If there is a traditionally devoutly religious couple running a bed and breakfast do we have the moral right to demand a civil union THERE? This is not really what the Founding Fathers intended. And it's not what common sense & neighborly goodwill suggests. Such demanding and abuse of lawsuits is just bad for our cause.

    We don't I believe (and shouldn't) have the "right" to go into a fundamentalist mega-church in a state where gay marriage is legal and demand accomodations for our nuptials. We have to operate on common sense and not like self-willed oppressed children.

    Posted by: will | Sep 17, 2011 4:37:33 PM

  20. If they ran a church they could actually say that their religious freedom is violated.

    But they are running a PUBLIC BUSINESS and have to follow the law. The article indicates that Illinois has a human rights laws that make such discrimination illegal.

    Letting the free market regulate civil rights issues worked so well between the Civil War and the 60s....

    Posted by: Steve | Sep 17, 2011 4:44:44 PM

  21. Use the link below to post a review on toilet people know about the practices of this inn.

    Posted by: MikeBoston | Sep 17, 2011 5:15:43 PM

  22. They should also be criminally prosecuted as we have a law in IL that gives gay people equal access to accommodations. Where's the Attorney General?

    Posted by: Marc | Sep 17, 2011 5:23:34 PM

  23. I think these sorts of lawsuits are unfortunate but necessary. However, I truly hope the couple won't let these setbacks ruin their festivities. There are bound to be other places which would be happy for the business.

    Posted by: Abel | Sep 17, 2011 5:34:37 PM

  24. If they have a license to run a business, they have to abide by the law. I really don't get the commenters here who say we should be "tolerant" of their point of view. Do you feel the same way about places that would restrict access to women of people of color?

    I imagine that the couple is not suing for the right to have their wedding at this venue anymore, but to make a point and, hopefully, to his the business owners in their pocketbook (the expense of a lawsuit is just as likely to put a small business owner out of business as bad press). I say good for them for not backing down.

    Posted by: mike128 | Sep 17, 2011 5:49:53 PM

  25. Their website says it is an "upscale" Christian B&B. Was Jesus an upscale kind of guy? I wonder how he feels being used as an advertising prop for a business catering to the wealthy

    Posted by: phil | Sep 17, 2011 6:06:24 PM

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