A resort in Lyndonville, Vt., is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for failing to serve a lesbian couple.
The Wildflower Inn promotes itself as the perfect vacation getaway where even family dogs are welcomed. The inn was voted Best Family Resort by Yankee Magazine in 2010 and the National Geographic Traveler has frequently given it high marks.
But Katherine Baker and Ming-Lien Linsley are suing the inn with the help of the ACLU for rejecting their same-sex marriage ceremony. The two women attempted to book their wedding reception at the inn but were turned down via email. The email stated, according to The New York Times, that the innkeepers, Mary and Jim O’Reilly, “do not host gay receptions” because of their “personal feelings.”
"When the Wildflower Inn told us last fall that they don't host gay receptions, we were obviously saddened and shocked," said Baker, according to Fox. "It was frustrating to be treated like lesser than the rest of the society, and we were also surprised that it happened in Vermont."
Vermont has, in the past, paved the road for gay rights. The state created the concept of civil unions for homosexual couples in 2000; and in 2009 gay marriage was legalized.
Fox reports that the O’Reillys have issued a statement saying:
"We have never refused rooms or dining or employment to gays or lesbians," they wrote. "Many of our guests have been same-sex couples. We welcome and treat all people with respect and dignity. We do not however, feel that we can offer our personal services wholeheartedly to celebrate the marriage between same-sex couples because it goes against everything that we as Catholics believe in."
Bruce Hausknecht, a judicial analyst at CitizenLink, a Focus on the Family affiliate, warns that the homosexual agenda will curtail religious rights.
“One of the most severe consequences of the ongoing push for “sexual liberty” in the United States is the very real trampling of religious and/or moral conscience. People of faith are increasingly learning that in the cultural conflict over gay marriage and other pro-homosexual laws, that sexual liberty wins, and people of faith are left with the choice of either yielding quietly or suffering the full weight of government retribution.”
Hausknecht goes on to say that what the innkeepers in Vermont are experiencing now is nothing new. The O’Reilly’s experience in Vermont “has already happened to many other business owners around the country who attempt to run a business according to the religious and moral principles they cherish.”
But Dan Barrett, an attorney with the Vermont Chapter of the ACLU, says O’Reilly’s decision to not accept the lesbian couple puts them in violation of the law.
"We believe this is a straightforward violation. Businesses open to the general public must serve all customers. ... They cannot turn people away based on sexual orientation. That section of the law has been on the books in Vermont since 1992," said Barrett, according to ABC.
Both Linsley and Baker live and work in New York City, however, they wanted to host the wedding in Vermont because they each had strong personal ties there. Before this experience, according to ABC, the couple says they have rarely experienced discrimination.
The couple is asking for a declaratory judgment; the means they want the court to declare that what happened to them was illegal.
The O'Reillys have 20 days to file a response to the allegations. The couple has since then found another site in Vermont to host their wedding reception.