Gay Issues

Lesbian Couple Denied Stay at Bed and Breakfast, Files Lawsuit

Two Southern California women, Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford, filed a lawsuit Monday against a Aloha Bed & Breakfast (in Hawaii), saying the business denied them a room because they are gay.

Cervelli called the business in 2007 to book a room, but when she specified they would need one bed, the owner asked if they are lesbians. Cervelli responded truthfully and the owner said she was uncomfortable having lesbians in her house because of her religious views, the lawsuit said.

Their lawsuit claims the business violated Hawaii's public accommodation law prohibiting any inn or other establishment that provides lodging from discriminating based on sexual orientation, race, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, ancestry or disability.

The couple ended up booking a room in Waikiki and the experience with the bed and breakfast "soured" their trip, Cervelli said Monday while in Honolulu with Bufford. "In my past experiences in Hawaii, people have been so friendly," she said. "It was just hurtful. It made me feel we weren't good enough."

Reached by phone, Aloha Bed & Breakfas owner Phyllis Young declined to comment and referred questions to her attorney. Honolulu attorney Jim Hochberg said he is representing her on behalf of the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization of attorneys representing people whose religious freedom is infringed. He said he hadn't yet seen the complaint.

According to the lawsuit, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission investigated. During the investigation Young told the commission homosexuality is "detestable" and "defiles our land." The commission issued a notice of "reasonable cause to believe that unlawful discriminatory practices have been committed" and notified the couple of their right to sue.

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