Illinois continues be a central battleground in the fight for fair treatment of same-sex couples, and thankfully, the tide of progress is inching forward. Recently, the court acknowledged that a same-sex couple had been denied civil rights when they were refused the use of a bed-and-breakfast while making plans for their civil union. The operators of the bed and breakfast denied the use on the grounds that it was a violation of their religious freedoms.
ACLU director got straight to the heart of the matter, noting “The [Human Rights] commission’s decision once again sends a clear message that denying couples the use of a public wedding venue in Illinois because they are gay or lesbian is simply not permitted. . . Business owners cannot pick-and-choose to follow laws simply because they personally disagree with same-sex couples’ decision to marry.”
The bed and breakfast has been ordered to pay damages of about $80,000 and to allow the couple to use the facility for a same-sex marriage. The lawyer representing the establishment has stated that they plan to fight the ruling.
In a season where many are concerned about the cultural climate of the country, and the ongoing conflict between equal distribution of civil rights for all and individuals’ freedoms of religious expression, it encouraging to see small steps toward greater, not lesser equality. If you are facing a legal issue because of your sexual orientation, or because you are in a same-sex couple, it is vital to have qualified legal representation that is empathetic and invested in seeing equal and fair treatment for all people.
Source: The Chicago Tribune, “Panel backs same-sex couple denied access to central Illinois bed and breakfast,” Nov. 30, 2016