Supreme Court refuses appeal from Hawaii B&B that rejected lesbian couple
The US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a B&B owner who refused to accommodate a lesbian couple in 2007 because she thought their relationship was “detestable.”
Last year, the Hawaii Supreme Court also rejected her appeal, which has been dragging on since the couple filed a lawsuit in 2011.
Supreme Court justices rejected Phyllis Young’s appeal, which argued that she should be allowed to turn gay couples away because of her religious beliefs, according to the Washington Post.
Phyllis Young told the couple she was uncomfortable letting to lesbians
Young – who runs Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Hawaii – told the couple in 2007 when they tried to book a room that she was uncomfortable letting to lesbians. She then cancelled their booking.
The women – Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford of California – then filed a complaint to the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, who found that Young had illegally discriminated against them.
Young’s attorney, James Hochberg told the Washington Post in a statement that she is willing to rent rooms to anyone – including LGBT+ people – but that she won’t rent to romantic partners unless they are married and heterosexual.
Young allegedly told the women that she thinks homosexual relationships are “detestable” and that they “defiled the land.”
“I was in disbelief, because this has never happened to me before … So now I’m facing discrimination just by being with someone I love.”
– Diane Cervelli
Cervelli previously opened up about being rejected from the B&B, saying Young asked her: “Are you a lesbian?”
“I answered truthfully, and the next thing out of her mouth was, ‘you can’t stay here.’”
She continued: “I was in disbelief, because this has never happened to me before.
“So now I’m facing discrimination just by being with someone I love.
“Some people continue to use their religious beliefs to discriminate and find ways around it. It’s really important that we are protected and we have our rights.”
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The couple’s attorney said LGBT+ people deserve to live life free from fear of discrimination
In a statement, counsel for the couple, Peter Renn of Lambda Legal, said that freedom of religion “does not give businesses a right to violate non-discrimination laws that protect all individuals from harm, whether on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
“The Supreme Court declined to consider carving out an exception from this basic principle when a business discriminates based on the sexual orientation of its customers. LGBT people deserve an equal right to go about their everyday life without the fear that discrimination waits for them around the corner.”
He also explained that the Masterpiece ruling of last year, in which the Supreme Court ruled in favour of a baker who refused to sell a cake to a same-sex couple, did not change that principle.
“LGBT people deserve an equal right to go about their everyday life without the fear that discrimination waits for them around the corner.”
– Peter Renn, Lambda Legal
“Instead, that case was decided on fact-specific grounds of whether there was hostility to religion by the agency that initially decided the case,” Renn said. “There is no evidence of that here, and the Cervelli case was decided by a court, rather than an agency.
“The Masterpiece case also involved a freedom of expression defense, which the Supreme Court did not rule upon, and in any event, there is no freedom of expression defense at issue here in the Cervelli.”