- (Photo: Reuters/Erin Siegal)
The owner of a bed and breakfast in Illinois has stated that he refuses to host same-sex wedding ceremonies on his property as long as he owns the business.
Jim Walder, owner of the TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast in Paxton, explained to local media his religiously-based objections to same-sex marriage.
"As long as I own TimberCreek, there will never be a gay marriage at this wedding venue," said Walder to The News Gazette.
Last November, Illinois passed a bill legalizing gay marriage. Signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn, prior to the bill's passage, the state had gay civil unions instead.
Before becoming the fifteenth state in the United States to legalize gay marriage, Walder had expressed his opposition to civil union ceremonies being held at TimberCreek.
"We will never host same-sex civil unions. We will never host same-sex weddings even if they become legal in Illinois," said Walder in 2011.
"We believe homosexuality is wrong and unnatural based on what the Bible says about it. If that is discrimination, I guess we unfortunately discriminate."
The announcement was met with a formal complaint from a same-sex couple, who had attempted to have their civil union service held at the TimberCreek property.
Filing complaints before the Illinois' Department of Human Rights and the state's attorney general, the couple argued that Walder's actions constituted a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act.
According to the Act, a business that are open to the public cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
"Not only do we ask this for ourselves, but we ask this for every gay and lesbian person in Illinois," said Todd Wathen, one half of the gay couple.
"We want these businesses to be held to the standard of the law. I mean what will be next, if we let them discriminate against us?"
The Illinois Human Rights Commission's decision on the 2011 complaint filed against TimberCreek is still pending.
Walder also told the News Gazette that he supported the new law being amended so as to exempt businesses from being forced to host same-sex wedding ceremonies.
"I totally support exemptions for everyone doing business in the wedding industry regarding civil unions or gay marriage," said Walder, adding that "our current legal predicament could be the predicament of other businesses in Paxton, as well."