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Question of the day

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011

* Todd Wathen of Mattoon and his male partner began planning a civil union ceremony shortly after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the civil unions bill into law. So, they contacted a couple of swanky Downstate bed and breakfasts. Both B&Bs turned them down

In an e-mail reply to Wathen, Jim A. Walder of the TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast wrote: “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,” Walder wrote.

When informed of the new law, Walder replied, “The Bible does not state opinions, but facts. It contains the highest laws pertinent to man. It trumps Illinois law, United States law, and global law should there ever be any.”

There are a couple of public accommodations exceptions in the Illinois Human Rights Act. Owner-occupied inns with 5 or fewer rooms to let don’t have to follow the racial, gender, religion, sexual orientation laws. Timber Creek has more than 5 rooms, so the business apparently must comply with the law of the land. From the statute

Civil Rights Violations: Public Accommodations. It is a civil rights violation for any person on the basis of unlawful discrimination to:

(A) Enjoyment of Facilities, Goods, and Services. Deny or refuse to another the full and equal enjoyment of the facilities, goods, and services of any public place of accommodation;

(B) Written Communications. Directly or indirectly, as the operator of a place of public accommodation, publish, circulate, display or mail any written communication, except a private communication sent in response to a specific inquiry, which the operator knows is to the effect that any of the facilities of the place of public accommodation will be denied to any person or that any person is unwelcome, objectionable or unacceptable because of unlawful discrimination;

* The Question: What are you thoughts on this story?

Try to be civil in comments, please. I have lots of work to do today and don’t want to spend too much time policing y’all. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


123 Comments
  1. - A.B. - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:04 am:

    Even with my conservative leanings, the B&B is wrong on this one. Ultimately we must all follow the law of the land. It really is that simple.

    Discrimination is not acceptable.


  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:09 am:

    I bet the Timber Creek is just a laugh riot at Happy Hour.

    I imagine they’ll have the same experience as those in the past who have refused accommodations based on race. It might be wise not to put it in writing like that, but perhaps they’re focused on the next world.


  3. - winco - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:10 am:

    If they want to follow Bible law, then I assume they don’t allow unmarried couples to rent rooms? Or do they have rooms with separate beds? Either way, if they want to rely on “Bible law,” then they will have to give up their license to operate, issued under lame, inferior “Illinois law.”


  4. - How Ironic - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:15 am:

    Glad to see that they at least were dumb enough to reply in email/writing. Should make the litigation go quicker, leaving more money for the couple to collect, versus going for attorney fees.

    Idiots.


  5. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:19 am:

    Just imagine of this couple was denied because they were black.

    The law is the law and they should be required to follow it just like everybody else.


  6. - Conservative Veteran - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:19 am:

    I’ve seen signs, at many stores, that say, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” I never heard that is illegal. That right of refusal should be legal, in all businesses, or illegal, in all businesses.


  7. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:19 am:

    If the law allows them to choose to deny service, and if they choose to give up the business opportunities provided by hosting GLBT events, there is nothing that can be done, and the businesses are correct in asserting their rights. Similarly, GLBT supporters can choose to deny supporting these businesses.

    This is called individual choice and liberty. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”


  8. - bored now - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:19 am:

    since other states are so eager to take away our businesses, kentucky can have ‘em. or indiana. or any number of states that are stuck in the stoneage…


  9. - shermans ghost - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:20 am:

    Nothing like starting off the partnership with a hefty payout from a lawsuit.
    Good plan.


  10. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:20 am:

    ===If the law allows them to choose to deny service===

    The law specifically does not, which you would’ve known had you read the post. So, let’s try to stay on-topic, please.


  11. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:21 am:

    They are going to have to comply with the law. The Bible does not give you carte blanche to ignore the laws of man. When you run a business you need to check your personal beliefs at the door. If you are unable to be non-discriminatory then your business should be shut down.


  12. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:22 am:

    Jim Walder’s lawyer can’t be happy. Most clueless client ever.


  13. - Emanuel Collective - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:22 am:

    It is my belief, too, that the Bible is the ultimate heavenly authority in the universe.

    Unfortunately for the owners of the lodge, they operate as a buiness within the state of Illinois, not in heaven, and are subject to the laws thereof.


  14. - D.P. Gumby - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:23 am:

    Paging Lester Maddox…your ax handles are in demand! Seriously, it’s deja vu all over again.


  15. - Ahoy - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:23 am:

    If you don’t want to follow the law, don’t own the business. It’s very simple.


  16. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:23 am:

    ===I’ve seen signs, at many stores, that say, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”===

    Those are legal. However, if they specifically deny service to a protected class because it’s a protected class, that’s illegal.

    Again, stick to the topic, please.


  17. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:25 am:

    Although if they’re following Bible law, the stoning of sinners down at the old TimberCreek must be a real hoot. Stay for the pie.


  18. - bored now - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:26 am:

    Emanuel Collective was spot on…


  19. - grand old partisan - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:30 am:

    According to the article:

    “The inn later e-mailed back to say they did not host civil union ceremonies or receptions for either same-sex or heterosexual couples, ‘nor do we do many other types of events.’”

    Seems to me like they have a pretty solid legal position. They aren’t discriminating against the couple because of their orientation. They simply don’t offer the service they are looking for. Pretty open and shut.


  20. - drowning in debt - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:31 am:

    So, they reconfigure the place to be under 5 rooms, get rid of this case and it is done.


  21. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:32 am:

    Too late, DiD. The deed is already done.


  22. - What planet is he from again? - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:32 am:

    “. . . they operate as a buiness within the state of Illinois, not in heaven. . .”

    You mean this isn’t heaven? Now that I think of it, “The streets are paved in maize” did sound kind of odd. Guess I have a badly translated version of the Bible.

    Anyway, to answer the question, follow the law. You can’t ban Pagans. Or Atheists.


  23. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:34 am:

    GOP, that’s a pretty weak defense.


  24. - Desert Dweller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:35 am:

    Christ said to “treat others as I have treated you”. And just because one pharisee chose not to help these two, there are plenty of samaritans who will.


  25. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:35 am:

    Good for Walden for standing up for his beliefs. He is apparenty willing to give up his business in order to comply with his faith. Not too many people have that kind of courage.

    As for the couple denied their rights, it looks like Walden will be paying for their honeymoon. I sure hope they didn’t knowingly target this particular B&B in the hopes of triggering a legal action, but they are clearly being dicriminated against, in direct violation of the law. They are entitled to protection under the law, and I suspect they’ll get it and more.

    Thanks to Greg Harris and others who passed this long-overdue law granting same-sex couples equal rights as other couples. But just like with passage of the Civil Rights Act, that doesn’t automatically ensure sunshine and rainbows. There will be more bumps like this in the road ahead, but that’s the price of progress.

    We live in this country under the laws of men, not God. Men are imperfect, and so are their laws.


  26. - Downstate Comissioner - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:37 am:

    In this economy, they turn down business? Glad they can afford it. Rejecting state law because of religious beliefs–Asking for a lawsuit. Being forced out of business because of this-Okay by me.
    Sending unsolicited religious advice? He should be forced to accept and read or listen to all unsolicited mail, emails, or phone calls, etc.


  27. - Anonymouse - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:38 am:

    Ugh, their, not there.

    How come freedom to practice ’sexual identity'’ always trumps freedom to practice religious identity’, esp if that religions is Xtianity?


  28. - MrJM - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:38 am:

    The Bible does not state opinions, but facts. It contains the highest laws pertinent to man. It trumps Illinois law, United States law, and global law should there ever be any.

    Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. – ROMANS 13:1-2

    – MrJM


  29. - grand old partisan - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:41 am:

    Rich, so what?

    You know what else is weak? The idea that small business owners with strong religious convictions have to choose between violating those beliefs or having to give up their business. And before someone else chimes in about how they probably don’t follow every single biblical command, again – so what? The idea that it is okay to disrespect the religious views of anyone who isn’t 100% pious in all their actions is ridiculous, and inconsistent with established legal tradition.


  30. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:43 am:

    Aren’t the B&Bs in business to make money? I guess I have a hard time believing that in this economy, an upscale B&B would refuse to serve anyone with the dollars to spend. I mean, it’s not like the owners are being asked to sin here, and it’s not like they will witness any sin that they may perceive may result (assumedly such would be perpetuated behind closed doors in the couple’s room).

    If I were that couple, however, I would find a more compatible facility for me and let my friends and family know about the other two businesses’ attitudes so that they know not to frequent the businesses too. Oh and maybe sue too, just for that fresh law suit feeling.


  31. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:44 am:

    ===You know what else is weak? The idea that small business owners with strong religious convictions have to choose between violating those beliefs or having to give up their business.===

    Nobody is asking them to give up their religious beliefs. They don’t have to go out and marry a gay guy. But they do provide a public accommodation, so they are subject to all sorts of state laws as a result.


  32. - titan - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:44 am:

    I think that there ought to b a reasonable “conscience” sort of accomodation to businesses on this.

    We have a situation where both sides have some principle based positions which are, inherently and irreconcilably, in conflict.

    Regardless of which side of that conflict any person is on, he/she ought to at least acknowledge that the other side has sincere principles involved.


  33. - Aldyth - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:46 am:

    Being part of the twenty-first century has been hard on some people. The owner of the Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast is about to find out just how rough it is to try and live in previous centuries.


  34. - David W. Aubrey - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:47 am:

    Sadly this is a lose-lose situation. This example is right at the intersection of free exercise of religion & equal protection. I don’t really have any answer to this one, as I’m sympathetic to both sides (though, I don’t like the opinion of the B&B owners).


  35. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:53 am:

    grand old partisan,

    Is a B&B with more than 5 rooms still a small business? It seems that those with less than 5 are considered small businesses and therefore exempt, not because of violating the owner’s conscience (after all, why wouldn’t it violate a large company owner’s conscience or a medium sized business) but because of the overhead of complying with the law which is considered onerous on a small business.


  36. - Liberty First - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:53 am:

    The Illinois constitution trumps the legislature. It provides religious freedom as you can read below. Interestingly enough it also says religion cannot be used to justify licentiousness - however evidently the legislature is free to do so.

    SECTION 3. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
    The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession
    and worship, without discrimination, shall forever be
    guaranteed, and no person shall be denied any civil or
    political right, privilege or capacity, on account of his
    religious opinions; but the liberty of conscience hereby
    secured shall not be construed to dispense with oaths or
    affirmations, excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify
    practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the State.
    No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry
    or place of worship against his consent, nor shall any
    preference be given by law to any religious denomination or
    mode of worship.


  37. - Montrose - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:57 am:

    The B&B owners are violating the Human Rights Act. Regardless of the basis for the reason for doing it, they are still violating Illinois law.

    They have options – once this case is settled, reconfigure the inn to meet the law’s exemption (which has always bothered me, but the same type of exemption exists in almost all fair housing/human rights laws. Getting rid of it would be very difficult), decide that they need to find a different line of work where they do not have to violate their belief system, or accept that they are bound by and need to follow Illinois law. What they cannot do is continue to discriminate if their inn is that big.

    There are laws I don’t like as well, but I follow them because, well, that is the law. I doubt they apply the logic they are applying to this discriminatory act to other regulations they need to follow to legally operate their business.


  38. - Freight Train - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:57 am:

    I knew this was coming. I am from Downstate Illinois and lazy media people did not examine how the implementation of this law would cause a backlash. I will say that it will become more interesting with each courthouse news announcement.


  39. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:57 am:

    LF, there’s nothing in there that overrides current state law on this matter.


  40. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:58 am:

    Paging Maury Povich, paging Jerry Springer . . .


  41. - Jeff - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 11:59 am:

    As others have said, the Bible is decidedly NOT the ultimate authority here. The law is.

    The alternative would be to let Muslims live under Sharia law, Christians to observe their laws and other religions operate under their own laws. As an atheist, I guess I could just make up my own. I’m pretty sure the current system of creating secular laws is better, and has significant public support.


  42. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:00 pm:

    Is religion a protected class? Can they argue that? At least give them a room with 2 twins. THanks Lib First


  43. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:00 pm:

    Gotta Wonder if Timber Creek ever hosted any divorced couples, spousal abusers, child molesters, pot smoking hippies…..?
    We believe the Bible doesn’t love them either.


  44. - Freight Train - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:01 pm:

    This might be an issue that causes a backlash for some downstate dem reps.


  45. - Living In Oklahoma - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:04 pm:

    If Conservative evangelicals want to live somewhere that reflects their values they need to leave Illinois. There is no winning this battle, only capitulation to the majority in the northeast corner of the state. Although I disagree with the law, the B and B has to live by it.


  46. - How Ironic - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:15 pm:

    I think I might have to book a room there next weekend. I’ll be brining my fortune-teller friend, whom I’m going to have to kill unfortunatly (Biblical Law and all!)

    A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death. (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)

    Sure hope I don’t have as much trouble booking the room as the civil-union couple did.


  47. - How Ironic - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:18 pm:

    Ironically, I meant to say “bringing” instead of ‘brining’. The latter however, as read is much funnier.


  48. - Freight Train - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:19 pm:

    I have a feeling that the law might be revisited with some additional amendments


  49. - Justice - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:24 pm:

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when it comes to exercising that opinion, it must be done so in compliance with the law. You can always lobby for change.

    Even if this couple has the law on their side, it doesn’t make for a happy stay on this important occasion. Seems odd that they would not have know of the B%B’s attitudes beforehand?

    I wish these folks the best.


  50. - Montrose - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:25 pm:

    “I have a feeling that the law might be revisited with some additional amendments.”

    I would note that the law they are breaking is not the one they just passed in December. They are breaking a law that was passed early on in the Blagojevich administration that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. The civil unions law just set up the scenario that allowed the B&B folks to break the law.


  51. - Highland, IL - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:26 pm:

    “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Perhaps Jesus was for separation of church & state….


  52. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:26 pm:

    FT, it might be revisited, but I seriously doubt it’ll pass, or even make it to the floor.


  53. - Statewide - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:27 pm:

    –FreightTrain: I knew this was coming…”

    What? The continued gross failure of some conservative Christians to recognize others’ right to freedom from illegal discrimination?

    And I thought maybe the day after the big mayoral election was going to be a quiet one! But in Illinois, Politics never sleeps in late!

    Why is it that so many Christian citations from “The Bible” seem to have missed the New Testament? Seems to me Jesus had a message for all of us: “Hey, people, New Rules: tolerance, compassion, love. God says this is the New Way!”

    Oh, and down at Walden’s Creek and across the rest of Illinois. Think about it this way: You’re gonna have to follow the law, or try a different line of work where your views don’t collide with it head-on.

    Just because you have a firmly-held point of view based on the facts you prefer, does not mean your view trumps the law. For example, you may be from Europe and think driving on the left side of the road is far more superior and intelligent, but here it is against the law. Yes, you can do it, but you will be fined. And if you keep it up, you will be told to knock it off.


  54. - Freight Train - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:27 pm:

    Will the instance response businesses be, “Sorry we do not have an opening at this time.” and refer them to someone else


  55. - Kasich Walker, Jr.'s Consultant on Spiritual Fitness & Sport - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:28 pm:

    To all who want those offering meals, lodging, and other products & services to discriminate on the basis of whatever basis they choose, consider this option: change the place of business to a private membership entity and serve only members.

    Maybe the B&Bs can find enough repeat customers to come back again and again.


  56. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:29 pm:

    OK, easy, people. Easy.

    The civil unions bill was signed, but it isn’t law yet, so there are questions here. Let’s not attack each other too much, please. Thanks.


  57. - amalia - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:29 pm:

    Timber Creek and Beall, thank you for the clarity. Now here’s mine….I will be sure to tell everyone I know that you do not deserve to be visited. I may just ask my husband to book us a room at your nearest competitor. just cause.


  58. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:30 pm:

    ===Will the instance response businesses be, “Sorry we do not have an opening at this time.” and refer them to someone else ===

    That is often done by landlords who do not want to rent to minorities. Some have been busted for it.


  59. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:31 pm:

    ===change the place of business to a private membership entity and serve only members. ===

    Except, you can’t discriminate in your membership.


  60. - MrJM - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:31 pm:

    Will the instance response businesses be, “Sorry we do not have an opening at this time.” and refer them to someone else

    Just as was done to the Jews and the “coloreds”.

    – MrJM


  61. - Liberty First - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:32 pm:

    Rich - The state is going to have to prove it has a compelling interest in forcing the bed and breakfast owners to violate their religious beliefs to over come the federal RFRA - making such an argument will not be simple especially when the B&B owners rights are protected in the constitution. Here is the text from the RFRA:

    Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in late 1993. Overwhelming bipartisan support was shown. (Reference 42 U.S. Code 2000bb). Its key clauses are:
    3 (a) In General: Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).
    3 (b) Exception: Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person:
    (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
    (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
    5 (1) the term ‘government’ includes a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, and official (or other person acting under color of law) of the United States, a State, or a subdivision of a State;


  62. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:32 pm:

    And Jesus.


  63. - Freight Train - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:34 pm:

    I do not like businesses being backed in a corner like this, but they should use common sense also. These types of situations will only inflame people on both sides.


  64. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:34 pm:

    If hotel patrons violate no other laws or hotel policies (that strive to apply to everyone equally), the only result of hosting civil union parties for this business owner is…hurt feelings.

    If store owners are allowed to violate the law and discriminate against civil unions, they should then be allowed to violate every other law.


  65. - Amuzing Myself - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:35 pm:

    If they believe that strongly, they will just shut down their B&B. So will many others if that’s what they’re forced to do. That’s a decision you make when you open a business in any jurisdiction. Maybe they will re-open under another name in a manner that allows them the exemption.


  66. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:35 pm:

    Living in Oklahoma,

    I’m not sure what you mean by northeast corner of the state. The couple who are going to be civil unioned and are looking for a venue are from Mattoon, which is in the central portion of the state.


  67. - The KQ - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 12:51 pm:

    If they are going to argue that they don’t offer these types of services, they might want to take their eight wedding packages off their web site. It looks like they offer services for up to 200 guests.


  68. - Elmhurst - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:21 pm:

    RFRA doesn’t matter, the exercise of no one’s religion is burdened by this law. No one is required to be gay, and that is what these innkeppers believe their religion is so against. The law just means they can’t refuse service to potential clients because they’re gay, same as they couldn’t if it were a mixed race couple.


  69. - Pangloss - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:22 pm:

    This is why it’s a bad idea to advertise for paramedics in the Christian Science Monitor.


  70. - chtownhv - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:27 pm:

    LOL@ Rich’s 12:32.


  71. - Freight Train - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:27 pm:

    This seems very similar with pharmacist not wanting to give the Plan B pill.


  72. - ilovecapfax - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:30 pm:

    Having significant experience with the Illinois Human Rights Act, I will say that these innkeepers are flat out in violation of the Act. As for their later response that they do not host many other types of events, it sounds like they got that idea from their lawyer. They will have the burden of proving that they have a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for denying public accommodation to this couple.

    Believe me, the Illinois Human Rights Act will not be amended to remove this right. Our state is one of the most progressive in anti-discrimination laws. And THIS is a good thing :)


  73. - Obamarama - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:31 pm:

    ===This seems very similar with pharmacist not wanting to give the Plan B pill.===

    Kinda, sorta. I can see the religion defense in that one since the pharms see it as assisting in an abortion (which it isn’t).

    With the B&B situation, it seems much more like a “we don’t like gay people and we want to stick it to ‘em.”


  74. - ilovecapfax - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:32 pm:

    And their website specifically advertises “weddings” and “ethnic weddings.” Wow.


  75. - Obamarama - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:39 pm:

    ===If the law allows them to choose to deny service, and if they choose to give up the business opportunities provided by hosting GLBT events, there is nothing that can be done, and the businesses are correct in asserting their rights.===

    “I’m not a lawyer but I play one on CapFax.”


  76. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:44 pm:

    Liberty First: First, that is a federal law which may or may not state law. Second, you are reading that law way to liberally — the State is not “substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion” — the inn keepers are free to practice their religion as they say fit (e.g. attend services, practice rituals, preach, etc.). I recognize and even sympathize (to some degree) that some may find civil unions objectionable (I for one could care less) — but if religious beliefs always trumped secular law, than everybody would be free to ignore any law on the basis of religion. One could say Sharia Law mandates them to stone their daughter to death if she is raped, someone who practices Wicca could say their religion required them to burn someone at the stake. In Israel, some ultra-orthodox Jews throw stones at cars that drive on the sabbath — of course, according to some commenters, that should be legal. Of course though, the Christian conservatives would argue that they aren’t talking about other “religions” — only the true religion.


  77. - MrJM - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:53 pm:

    @Rich - I thought I’d included Him in both categories.

    – MrJM


  78. - Joe Verdeal - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 1:58 pm:

    It would be good sport, perhaps, for the B&B owners to allow the “Civil Union” ceremony to take place and then invite teams of evangelists to simultaneously visit this event. Efforts could be made to convince the gays that their ways are in error.

    Sounds like a potential Sacha Baron Cohen movie.


  79. - grand old partisan - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:05 pm:

    Just so I am 100% clear here, are those who are siding with the couple suggesting that facility owners have no right to ever refuse use of their facility for an event that offends them and their beliefs?? Absolutely never ever? Because it doesn’t take much imagination to come up with examples that might challenge your convictions here.

    And yes, a wedding is different from a civil union, per the construct of the law. So just because they advertise that they host weddings doesn’t mean they are obligated to host civil unions.


  80. - matty - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:12 pm:

    FINE THEM.


  81. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:15 pm:

    GOP: Legally speaking, business owners have the right to refuse service to anyone so long those that they are not refusing are not a protected class. Ugly people, people that wear purple hats, people that drive SUVs, people that eat pizza, etc. are not protected classes, and therefore can, again i’m just speaking legally, can be discriminated against. Sexual orientation, race, religion gender, etc. are protected classes and cannot be discriminated against.


  82. - Fed-Up - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:16 pm:

    TimberCreek is just plain wrong but why would Mr. Wathen and his partner want to go someplace (and give them their money) that wants to treat them like this. Perhaps they should just sue and take TimberCreek’s money and spend it in a more welcoming spot.


  83. - Boone Logan Square - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:19 pm:

    Bigotry and commerce are not always a desirably combination for the small business owner. Sell to someone interested in serving the public if you are not prepared to serve the public.


  84. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:19 pm:

    @Liberty First:

    You are really grasping at straws with your “religious freedom” arguments. Those arguments do not apply when talking about protected classes of people and anti-discrimination laws. You can’t refuse service to a black person, a disabled person, a homosexual, etc., just b/c your religious beliefs say so. That is pretty much established law.


  85. - Boone Logan Square - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:20 pm:

    desirable

    (Post-election hangover typo.)


  86. - matty - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:21 pm:

    personally, i have utter disdain for anything religious. I admit that I am intollerant of religion, and everyone around me knows I feel that way. Personally, arguments like these is why I feel the world would be better without all of the fictitious stories in your respective religious book. The only religion I subscribe to is HUMAN. That’s it. equall treatment for all in their own nation or state. In this case, the B&B owners should be ashamed of themselves; and Im quite glad that their name, business, and location is in the public for all to witness what despicable people they are.


  87. - Ghost - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:27 pm:

    Not to fal down into a Bible debate, but the bible scripture notes Jesus discussing the issue of compliance with a country’s laws. Jesus told the people” “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (matthew 22:12)

    Which is basicall stateing that christians are to follow an comply th the secular laws and should NOT use their religion to avoid following the law.

    In other words, the bible does not replace secular law or authority.

    Also there are a few things in the Bible about forgiving sinners, and that it is not people place to sit in judgment of another.

    I guess he prefers to hurl stones from his glass house then follow those uncomfortable provisions of the bible.


  88. - grand old partisan - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:28 pm:

    JO - the owners are not discriminating against people, they are discriminating against an event. As far as we know, these genltemen would be perfectly welcome to have a birthday party at this establishment.


  89. - Jasper - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:33 pm:

    Liberty First — you are claiming that the Big Government in far off Washington D.C. gets to decide who a B&B in Springfield, Illinois has as clients? Wow! At first your comments had me thinking you were some sort of conservative.


  90. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:37 pm:

    @gop:

    Nice try. They are, in fact, discriminating against the people by denying the event. How do I know - read their e-mail.


  91. - late to the party - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:37 pm:

    GOP -

    “We believe homosexuality is wrong and unnatural based on what the Bible says about it. If that is discrimination, I guess we unfortunately discriminate,”

    This quote has nothing to do with discrimination against the event.


  92. - MrJM - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:38 pm:

    GOP@2:28: “the owners are not discriminating against people, they are discriminating against an event.”

    So if they refused to host a mixed-race wedding, would they merely be “discriminating against an event”? What if they refused to host a Jewish wedding? Is that also just “discriminating against an event”?

    Just how far down that hole are we willing to crawl?

    – MrJM


  93. - UISer - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:46 pm:

    “We believe homosexuality is wrong and unnatural based on what the Bible says about it. If that is discrimination, I guess we unfortunately discriminate,”

    They probably should settle… Quickly.


  94. - grand old partisan - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:51 pm:

    Demoralized - apparently you didn’t read the whole email. They said they don’t host civil unions for anyone, gay or straight. The fact that civil unions are all that gays are eliguble is the legislature’s fault, not the owners.

    MrJM - yes, that would be decriminiation. But that isn’t what is happening. A civil union is not the same as a wedding. That is a fact that is not only recognized, but was created by the court. That have just as much right to refuse to host a civil union as they do to refuse to host a stag party, or any other event theyt didn’t want in their establishment.

    “Late” - see above. It is irrelevant why they don’t want to host this event. They have the right to not host whatever kind of event for whatever reason.


  95. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:51 pm:

    –The alternative would be to let Muslims live under Sharia law, Christians to observe their laws and other religions operate under their own laws–

    Jeff, please don’t give the impression that these folks are operating under some bedrock “Christian” law. They’re cherry-picking Mose’s (King of the Jews) laws in Leviticus for wandering around in The Wilderness — which had very specific instructions on the use of captured slaves as well as some harsh Old Testament punishments for minor crimes.


  96. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:57 pm:

    –And Jesus.–

    Of course, lol.

    “Perhaps we could direct you to the manger down the street…”


  97. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 2:57 pm:

    ==It is irrelevant why they don’t want to host this event. They have the right to not host whatever kind of event for whatever reason.==

    Actually, it is relevant why they don’t want to host the event. They DON’T have the right to refuse to do this for whatever reason they want. That is the whole point of this discussion. It is against the law. As long as they choose to operate a business they have to abide by the law. If they don’t like it they can close their business or move it to another state.


  98. - Kang - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 3:13 pm:

    I think the Waldens - prior to their 2nd email - were admitting that they believed their religious beliefs (regardless of whether other Christians, myself included, agree with their specific theological viewpoint) called on them to discriminate under IL law. That being the case, they should, as some who have quoted Scripture here have pointed out, also be completely at peace with accepting the punishment or penalty for such an illegal act as well. After all, if one’s faith calls you to disobey a law you believe is wrong, then you most likely are also called on to be persecuted for doing so (e.g. Civil Rights movement in 1960’s).


  99. - grand old partisan - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 3:18 pm:

    Demoarlized - where does the law say that a facility owner must make their facility available for any event that someone wants to host? The owners are not telling these gentlemen that they cannot use his facility. They are saying that they can’t use the facility for this event. Unless the gentlemen can prove that the owners have rented out for straight civil unions, then there is no case.


  100. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 3:28 pm:

    GOP: Your nuanced argument is interesting, I just don’t know if a Judge would buy that — a Judge would likely look at intent of the inn’s owner.


  101. - Anon Good Nurse, Anon - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 3:41 pm:

    GOP: And the website states that they host civil “weddings” and religious weddings, but not civil unions. Gays and lesbians are only able to have civil unions. But if a man and a woman want to be married by a JP, that is A-OK. Therefore, they are discriminating against gays and lesbians, not just events, which is illegal in Illinois. Just accept it.


  102. - grand old partisan - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 3:44 pm:

    JO - thanks. But I’d argue that as long as the owner is consistant, intent is irrevelant. In other words, if the law changed to recognize gay marriage, and the owner stopped hosting any weddings for fear that he’d have to host gay weddings too, that would not be discrimination either, even though by your definition the intent is to deny a service. As long as it’s consistant, it doesn’t matter


  103. - piling on - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 3:46 pm:

    Let he without sin cast the first stone. Let he with sin who throws stones retain a good lawyer.


  104. - late to the party - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 3:48 pm:

    Actually, the email specifically states that homosexuality is wrong, not civil unions or same-sex marriage.


  105. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 4:40 pm:

    @gop:

    If the owners do limit the types of events then I would agree with you. But, they cannot allow a wedding on the one hand and deny this gathering on the other. To do so is discriminatory. If you don’t agree then you fail to grasp the concept of anti-discrimination laws.


  106. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 4:41 pm:

    There seems to be a misconception that a business owner is entitled to serve whomever he or she chooses. That is allowable in some cases (i.e. no shoes, no shirt, no service). But, if you provide a service it has to be provided for EVERYBODY - you can’t deny it to someone if they are in a protected class. That is just the way it is.


  107. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 4:48 pm:

    I disagree with what the owners are doing, and I think it is against the law.

    Having said that, imagine if they were refusing to host a Democrat or Republican event, or a Klan event, or an ACLU event. How would we be reacting?


  108. - piling on - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 4:58 pm:

    Or a George Ryan legal defense fundraiser.


  109. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 5:30 pm:

    My thoughts? The Judge sure is (or sure ain’t) gonna have fun with the inevitable lawsuit on this subject, ‘cuz there are decent arguments on both sides, and as with SO many cases, further details are needed, and, ultimately, although at 1ST glance, the wording of the new law seems clear, the case would rest on a Court’s interpretation/definitions of certain key words within the Statute as applied to ALL of the evidence brought forward. But, in any event, as we ALL knew in Illinois once this thing was passed, let the fun begin (and, yet again, at least in time, it will be, as it was for Da New “Mayor-elect” of Chicago, resolved not directly by the People, but by someone(s) in the “3RD” Branch of Government (maybe our Government/Civics teachers should start referring to the Judiciary as the 1ST Branch in the “Separation of Powers;” it truly seems SO much more accurate, fitting, and appropriate)!


  110. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 5:33 pm:

    –maybe our Government/Civics teachers…–
    OR, pardon me, and our “Home Schoolers or Home School Instructors”….


  111. - Park - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 6:22 pm:

    Well, Todd. Why don’t you just let it go, huh?


  112. - Jasper - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 7:00 pm:

    Park, it sure is easy to tell the victim “let it go”, isn’t it? No skin off your back, Park.

    One additonal note — I have to be amused that the same people talking about the B&B’s perceived right are the same sort of people outraged when Muslims try to assert their religion. A B&B wants to discrimate against gays, based on religion? The right talks about freedom of religion. Muslims want to build a mosque? The right is outraged.
    For some “freedom of religion” means “freedom of religion that we like.”


  113. - anon - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 8:07 pm:

    I disagree with the discrimination, but found some humor in the fact that one guy in the happy couple didn’t want his name used as he wasn’t “out” yet.


  114. - Way Northsider - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 8:08 pm:

    The B&B is clearly wrong. Why they would choose to clarify that in writing is odd to say the least. Personally I would never want to give them my money. If they decide to flaunt state law they should be prosecuted.


  115. - Ninoy Bolo Pampagana - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 8:43 pm:

    The underlying question may be why is one “class” protected by law and others who are not.


  116. - Anon - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 9:19 pm:

    Acts 5:29 (New International Version, ©2010)

    Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!


  117. - Liberty First - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 9:38 pm:

    Demoralized - since you seem to think I’m grasping at straws you might read the articles about at the Pew Forum web site for a little more depth to the issues. The courts are going to have to settle the conflicts…. Personally I think the gays should avoid some B & Bs religiously and Jasper, I think gov’t ought to stay out of bedrooms all over the country including those at B & Bs…


  118. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 9:46 pm:

    @Anon 9:19:

    That might get you props in heaven but see how far that gets you here on earth. Not far, I’m guessing. Until some legislature passes the Bible as the “law” I think I’ll stick to the laws of man.


  119. - Liberty First - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 10:10 pm:

    Interesting comments but I don’t get why so many don’t see the conflict - Chai Feldblum EEOC commissioner: “When we pass a law that says you may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, we are burdening those who have an alternative moral assessment of gay men and lesbians.”"Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win because that’s the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner.”


  120. - Bemused - Wednesday, Feb 23, 11 @ 10:13 pm:

    The documentation would seem to make this pretty open and shut. If the B&B owners are willing to spend big bucks for hired guns not so much. My prediction would be for this to make some law firms a bit more comfy and the outcome delayed til we have all moved on to greater things. In four or five years the final outcome may be a footnote in the daily news.


  121. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 12:31 am:

    === The underlying question may be why is one “class” protected by law and others who are not. ===

    Because there is a long history of discrimination in public accomodations (restaurants, hotels, retail shops), housing and employment against people based on race, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, and perceived sexual orientation.

    One of my favorite political moves was by George Ryan. Frustrated by Senate Republican roadblocks to the Human Rights Act to protect Americans based on their perceived sexual orientation, Ryan amendatorily vetoed a bill that protected motorcyclists from being denied service to prohibit discrimination based on perceived sexual orientation.

    Speaker Madigan normally takes a pretty narrow view of amendatory veto powers, but he let that one slide.

    I thought it made a great point: if restaurants shouldn’t be able to refuse to a couple of leather-clad bikers — a measure that passed overwhelmingly — why should refusing service to a gay couple be okay?


  122. - Bemused - Thursday, Feb 24, 11 @ 8:09 am:

    Earlier post is gone?


  123. - Jabberwocky - Friday, Feb 25, 11 @ 2:51 pm:

    Oops, that’s Todd “Wathen”. I’ll try to stick to my own advice…


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