Illinois Commission Panel Says Christian-Owned Bed & Breakfast Must Host Gay Weddings
B&B Owner Says its 'Reverse Discrimination'
A decision forcing a Christian-owned bed and breakfast to pay a same-sex couple $30,000 for refusing to host their wedding ceremony will stand.
A 3-member panel of the Illinois Human Rights Commission refused to hear an appeal in a decision compelling TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast to pay a fine for declining to host a gay wedding on their property, although they have hosted opposite-sex weddings in the past.
TimberCreek owner Jim Walder told The Christian Post that they took issue with the panel decision and were planning to appeal to the full state Human Rights Commission.
"Citizens should only decide not to obey a law after much thought and only in extreme circumstances," said Walder.
"In our opinion, forcing a small business with one employee to host gay marriage which violates the owners sincerely-held Biblical belief that marriage is between one man and one woman is an extreme circumstance, especially when marriage has been understood for thousands of years to be a union between one man and one woman."
In 2011, TimberCreek refused to host a same-sex wedding ceremony, with Walder stating at the time that he opposed on religious grounds to holding such ceremonies even if they became legal.
"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."
In response to the refusal, the same-sex couple filed a formal complaint with the state's Department of Human Rights arguing that it is a rejection of the Illinois Human Rights Act.
In March, Administrative Law Judge Michael R. Robinson ordered TimberCreek to pay the same-sex couple $30,000 for causing emotional distress, plus over $50,000 in attorney fees.
"Respondent [must] pay each Complainant $15,000, which represents damages for the emotional distress arising out [of] its refusal to host their same-sex, civil union ceremony," ordered Robinson.
"Respondent [must] be directed to cease and desist from violating the Human Rights Act by discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation when denying same-sex couples access to its facilities and services for their civil union ceremonies and/or marriages."
Regarding the Commission's upholding of the previous decision, Walder told a local media outlet that the "fix was in from the get-go," as he said two of the three panel members were involved in LGBT activism or openly gay.
"The public probably assumes that these three commissioners were nonpartisan, fair and neutral when the exact opposite was the case," stated Walder.
"This feels like blatant reverse discrimination against all business owners, Christian or otherwise, by the IHRC, which is supposed to be an unbiased, neutral party in resolving complaints."