Religion

Christian-Owned Hotel Ordered To Host Gay Weddings

| by Ray Brown

A Christian-owned bed-and-breakfast has been fined $30,000 for refusing to host a gay wedding and must host same-sex weddings in the future.

In November, the TimberCreek bed-and-breakfast's owner Jim Walder was ordered to pay $30,000 for emotional distress and $52,000 for attorneys’ fees and costs to a gay couple who he refused to host for a 2011 wedding, according to the Chicago Daily Bulletin.

Now, the Illinois Human Rights Commission refused to hear an appeal Walder filed.

“The fix was in from the get-go,” Walder told the Paxton Record. “The public probably assumes that these three commissioners were nonpartisan, fair and neutral when the exact opposite was the case.”

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“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,” Walder added. “It begs the question how this unelected commission’s rulings can ever be taken seriously again.”

“The unfortunate order from the panel doesn’t surprise me, given the zeitgeist in this state now,” said Walder’s attorney, Jason Craddock. “We will keep fighting, of course -- first appealing to the entire commission, and then onto the [Illinois] Appellate Court, and beyond if necessary.”

In 2014, when the case's decision was still pending, Walder was defiant about hosting gay weddings at his venue.

"As long as I own TimberCreek, there will never be a gay marriage at this wedding venue," Walder told the News-Gazette.

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The couple was represented by ACLU senior counsel Harvey M. Grossman, Betty Tsamis of Tsamis Law and Clay A. Tillack of Schiff Hardin LLP.

Tillack argued that his clients were lawfully protected under the Human Rights Act.

"In any case in which a company or an individual holds services out to the community, the Human Rights Act is very clear that the company or individual that’s offering those services cannot deny them to any particular group based on their sexual orientation, their race, their sex, et cetera," said Tillack, according to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. "So in this case, our clients were denied access to the premises of the bed-and-breakfast solely because of their sexual orientation and the commission ruled that is not permissible."

Sources: Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Paxton Record, News-Gazette / Photo credit: TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast

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