Discrimination | News | Vermont

Lesbian Couple Settle Discrimination Suit Against VT Inn

LinsleyBakerThe Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, VT will pay $10,000 to the ACLU and give $20,000 to a charitable cause after agreeing to settle a discrimination suit filed by two women who say the inn would not host their same-sex wedding reception.

"We're glad that the Wildflower Inn has recognized that the way we were treated was wrong and that no other family will have to experience what we did," said one of the women, Ming Linsley.

"Although we found a different location and had a beautiful day, all families should feel welcome at any resort that's open to the public."

As part of the settlement, the inn has agreed not to host weddings or wedding receptions, but insist that the lawsuit stemmed from a miscommunication in which an employee erroneously denied Linsley and her wife. Though they maintain their opposition against marriage equality, they would have happily taken Linsley's money and then lectured her, they said.

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  1. Instead, The Wildflower Inn got lectured. This is why it matters who you choose to do business with; they'll gladly use your money against you. Hear that Chick-fil-Gays and Target devotees?

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Aug 24, 2012 7:25:06 AM


  2. A good decision. The inn rightly has to choose between honoring their private religious beliefs or serving the public. What they can't do under VT law is use their private bigotry to target one group of people for public discrimination. They shouldn't be getting any slice of the VT wedding business and now they aren't, and they learned that lesson at a cost, to them. (The employee miscommunication excuse was bogus.)

    Posted by: Ernie | Aug 24, 2012 8:04:59 AM


  3. And still these small minded bigots use religion as a weapon........and they think God loves them.
    Pathetic, just pathetic.

    Well done to th plaintiffs; they taught the hicks a lesson.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Aug 24, 2012 9:02:13 AM


  4. "Though they maintain their opposition against marriage equality, they would have happily taken Linsley's money and then lectured her, they said."

    Yeah, riiiiiiiiight!

    Posted by: Pete N SFO | Aug 24, 2012 9:18:45 AM


  5. "...they would have happily taken Linsley's money and then lectured her."

    LOL, rigggght, that's gonna work.

    Posted by: johnny | Aug 24, 2012 9:39:31 AM


  6. There is an (in)famous quote attributed to Groucho Marx which I think is entirely appropriate to the situation: PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER. If our ACCEPTANCE is not appreciated at a venue (ie Chick-Fil-A, et. al) then why bother going there. The suit was good because it forced the owners of the inn to realize that the world is a different place than where they are. However to gay couples everywhere, I would still say ignore to the place. There used to be marks the hobos would use when traveling to designate places which were hospitable or not. We should do the same with a public posting of non-accommodating places "THE WALL OF GAY HATERS" along with a list of "THE WALL OF PRO GAY BUSINESSES".
    I for one would love to see a listing of local besides the national "Hate Groups" listed by the SPLC.

    Posted by: Steven | Aug 24, 2012 12:08:35 PM


  7. There is an (in)famous quote attributed to Groucho Marx which I think is entirely appropriate to the situation: PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER. If our ACCEPTANCE is not appreciated at a venue (ie Chick-Fil-A, et. al) then why bother going there. The suit was good because it forced the owners of the inn to realize that the world is a different place than where they are. However to gay couples everywhere, I would still say ignore to the place. There used to be marks the hobos would use when traveling to designate places which were hospitable or not. We should do the same with a public posting of non-accommodating places "THE WALL OF GAY HATERS" along with a list of "THE WALL OF PRO GAY BUSINESSES".
    I for one would love to see a listing of local besides the national "Hate Groups" listed by the SPLC.

    Posted by: Steven | Aug 24, 2012 12:08:36 PM


  8. @Steven: The point is not that gay couples couldn't go elsewhere--there are many gay-friendly inns in VT-- but that the inn shouldn't be able to profit from the state's name and wedding industry while practicing illegal discrimination.

    Now that the inn (BTW, the innkeepers aren't hicks, just bigots) is no longer in the wedding business gay couples have no chance of wasting their time working with a business whose bigotry they might not be aware of. Any couple wishing to book an event in VT should be able to expect gracious accommodation for all or accommodation for none. This case makes that clear to other inns--be welcoming or be weeded out cause gay hating businesses aren't welcome in VT.

    Posted by: Ernie | Aug 24, 2012 12:40:12 PM


  9. Yes, Ernie it does - in Vermont - which is already very liberal. But in other states this news just aggravates the situation. I personally think it is a mistake to force people to host a gay wedding reception because the culture has not reached the point where it views discrimination against gays as on par with racial discrimination. Strategically, anti-discrimination laws could be established or enforced later on, when there would be almost no political price to pay. Right now conservative websites are full of advice on how catering hall owners can ruin the receptions of gay couples they have to serve by watering down the wedding case, causing electrical shortages, etc..

    I fear that victories like this will only enflame the culture wars further - at a time when gays need these wars to be cooled. If these ladies couldn't find a place willing to host their reception that would be another thing. But right now they are only doing something that lessens the chances of lesbians in other states being allowed to marry at all - let alone force others to participate in the reception.

    Posted by: Mary | Aug 24, 2012 1:49:15 PM


  10. "$20,000 to a charitable cause"

    An anti-gay church, I'm guessing. Does anyone know?

    Posted by: Randy | Aug 24, 2012 4:29:39 PM


  11. @Mary: We've been down this road before, so I'll only add that discrimination is discrimination, and the culture doesn't change when it is swept under the rug. Not everyone has to file suit, and there may be circumstances when it would be ill-advised, but the so-called culture wars are won by fighting them not by staying quiet. There is no historical evidence to back your claim that ignoring violations of non-discrimination laws advances gay rights. In fact, the opposite is true.

    Posted by: Ernie | Aug 24, 2012 7:19:04 PM


  12. Every LGBT rights group in the country ought to be mailing letters to this couple thanking them for DESTROYING everything they have ever worked for. Is it possible to imagine a better example for National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the Family Research Council (FRC) to use as they argue that the struggle for marriage equality is actually a struggle against religious freedom? This is a disgusting and despicable refutation of the Innkeepers' 1st amendment rights to freedom of religion and speech. The owners did not even prohibit the marriage taking place at the Inn, they just had it known that their personal religious views were against gay marriage. Having had my face ripped open with a shattered wineglass by some maniac screaming anti-gay hate at me in a restaurant, I can assure everyone that I get the concept of how
    hurtful anti-gay hate can be. Moreover, given that my husband is Australian, and I am about to be forced into exile from my own country because the Federal Government does not respect my marriage due to DOMA and therefore I am not able to give my husband a greencard, I have a lot more at stake in this marriage equality fight than most. It is BECAUSE I care so much about this fight that I am so DISGUSTED by this lawsuit. What level of selfishness and stupidity could have driven this couple to file this lawsuit? Moreover, what lack of respect for constitutional freedom could have led the ACLU to support them in the suit? Furthermore, what level of constitutional illiteracy could have led a judge to decide that the Lesbian's couple right to be free from discrimination under a state statute could trump the Innkeepers' right to freedom of religion and speech guaranteed under the first amendment? This lawsuit is a TRAVESTY! We have no hope of EVER getting equal rights if we go about it this way. If there is one sure way to turn against us descent Americans, who are open to the idea of fairness and willing to give our arguments a chance, this is surely the way. Why don't we just start advocating to round up the religious right into box cars and sending them off to concentration camps? Have we completely lost our minds? Ironically, the couple had much of the proceeds of the suit donated to preventing LGBT teen suicide. They are actually deluding themselves into thinking that they are doing a favor to our community. The damage they have done to our cause is hard to imagine. When NOM says "It's not about fairness, the left wants to change the definition of marriage for the rest of us and force their definition of marriage down other peoples' throats" they now have all the proof they need. Thank you Lesbian couple and thank you ACLU for doing everything you can to WRECK our chances at getting equal rights!

    Posted by: shevmonster | Aug 25, 2012 9:24:06 PM


  13. So... anti-discrimination laws should be completely unenforceable, then, Shevmonster?

    Posted by: Chris | Aug 27, 2012 10:28:48 AM


  14. @SHEVMONSTER: You might want to calm down and actually read the facts of the suit. The innkeepers' freedom of speech and religion was not violated in the least. They can say and believe anything they want; they just can't exclude one class of people from a public inn. That's discrimination, and discrimination is against the laws and values of VT.

    And, contrary to your statement, the inn did refuse to host the wedding (later claiming it was an employee's "mistake"), in essence hanging out a No Gays Allowed shingle, one no different than a No Blacks Allowed shingle. In VT, it is well understood that you can't do that. It is in obvious violation of our non-discrimination laws. It could be argued that because the lawsuit upsets NOM it was a bad idea, but in truth DOMA will be found unconstitutional no matter what NOM thinks.

    You sound like an unhinged NOM apologist. The lesbians and the ACLU will not wreck anything in your life.

    Posted by: Ernie | Aug 27, 2012 10:41:58 AM


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