A Hawaii First Circuit Court judge has ruled that a bed and breakfast broke the law when it denied two women a room because they are lesbians.
California couple Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford sued Aloha Bed & Breakfast for discrimination after they were denied a room in 2007. The couple attempted to stay at the B&B because it was in Hawaii Kai, the same neighborhood where their friends lived.
Cervelli reportedly told the owner of the establishment that the two women would only need one bed. When the owner specifically asked if they were lesbians, Cervelli responded truthfully. According to the lawsuit, the owner then said that she was uncomfortable renting a room to lesbians because of her religious views.
Hawaii has a public accommodations law that makes it illegal to discriminate against same-sex couples. The law also prohibits discrimination based on color, race, ancestry, disability, religion, and sex, according to Fox News.
“The public needs to be aware of this decision because it has far-reaching consequences," said Jim Hochberg, a Honolulu attorney representing the B&B’s owner. He said that the ruling does not take his client’s First Amendment rights into consideration.
"The court's decision is based on Hawaii's strong state civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination," said Hawaii Civil Rights Commission executive director William Hoshijo. "When visitors or residents are subjected to discrimination, they suffer the sting of indignity, humiliation and outrage, but we are all demeaned and our society diminished by unlawful discrimination."