Apparently the very act of sleeping while gay is offensive. This year we’ve seen three discrimination cases involving bed and breakfast establishments, each in a different country: the UK, Canada, and the US.
In February an English court of appeals upheld a gay couple’s victory against the owners of Chymorvah House in Cornwall. In Bull & Bull v. Hall & Preddy, the B&B owners argued that they would not accept bookings from any unmarried couple, whether homosexual or heterosexual, because they believe sex outside of marriage is a sin. The court sided with Hall and Preddy, who argued that their civil partnership should have been treated as equal to marriage by the Chymorvah House. The opinion emphasized the distinction between the owners’ behavior in their commercial activity (which is subject to anti-discrimination law) and their privately-held religious beliefs (which are not).
The same public/private distinction held sway in British Columbia, Canada, earlier this month with Eadie and Thomas v. Riverbend Bed and Breakfast. The province’s Human Rights Tribunal ruled against the B&B owners for canceling the booking of Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas. After learning the men were a gay couple, the owner stated that the reservation “was not going to work out” because “it would have shamed him and his lord.” The business closed soon after the incident, but the owners themselves were found liable for discrimination.
Hopefully Hawaii’s First Circuit Court follows suit in Cervelli and Bufford v. Aloha Bed and Breakfast, in which the plaintiffs were denied a booking and called “detestable” after admitting, when asked by the owner, that they were a lesbian couple. The state’s public accommodation law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, but the owner argues that the law does not apply to her business.
So…who’s ready for a vacation?