Kate Baker and Ming-Lein Linsley have
won their discrimination lawsuit against the Wildflower Inn in
The owners of the inn have have agreed
to pay $30,000 in fines and damages and have acknowledged that they
broke the law when they refused to host the couple's wedding
reception because they are gay.
Linsley's mother, Channie Peters, was
first greeted warmly by the inn's staff, but she received a “bad
news” e-mail shortly after she disclosed that her daughter was
marrying another woman.
“I have bad news,” the e-mail's
subject line stated. “[D]ue to [the owners'] personal feelings,
they do not host gay receptions at our facility.”
Jim and Mary O'Reilly, who opened the
inn in 1997, argued that they were complying with a 2005 decision by
the Vermont Human Rights Commission that stated that while it was
illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, the inn
could advise potential customers of the O'Reilly's religious beliefs.
The ACLU of Vermont represented the
women in the case.
“What this settlement makes clear is
that you can't discourage and get away with it,” said Dan Barrett,
an attorney for the ACLU of Vermont. “Discouragement or any
unequal treatment of LGBT customers is [legally] the same as an
couple said they would give “the largest chunk” of their
settlement to gay teen suicide prevention group The Trevor Project.