An Illinois Bed and Breakfast has responded to a civil rights charge after a gay couple complained that their human rights had been violated, and are now attempting to suppress what the Bed and Breakfast claims is their religious freedom.
Gay couple Mark and Todd Wathen filed complaints in November against TimberCreek after being told that the Bed and Breakfast, which specializes in outdoor country weddings, would not host same-sex civil unions.
The Christian owner Jim Walder cited in an email to the Wathens that homosexuality was “wrong and unnatural” in accordance with the Bible.
A series of emails had been exchanged between Todd Wathen and Walder, in which Wathen threatened to contact the Attorney General of Human Rights, claiming that the issue was one of human rights. Walder, however, is adamant that this is an issue of his religious freedom, and that he should be free to believe and act in a way faithful to what Christians have believed for thousands of years.
He responded stating that the Bible contained “the highest law pertinent to man.” He later sent Wathen Bible verses which referred to homosexual relationships as “unseemly.”
Alliance Defense Fund attorney, Steve Amjad stated that, “No business owner may be forced to violate his sincerely held religious beliefs merely because someone demands it.”
The ADF also charged that applying the Illinois Human Rights Act to the case in question was a violation of, “the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, federal law, and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
The Wathens stated in the complaint that they had been “a committed couple” for nearly ten years. They pursued a civil union after Illinois passed a law on Jan. 31, 2011 that permitted same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. The complaint did not address the issue of Walder’s religious freedom.
Illinois became the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage and announced in November that it would also permit same-sex couples to file joint taxes.
Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov calls it “a major step because it allows civil union couples to be treated in the same way as married couples are treated.”
However, huge controversy still remains over same-sex marriages and which rights should befit them. GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum argued at Dordt College in Iowa that allowing same sex marriage would “be a hit to faith and family in America.”