A Hawaii court on Monday ruled in favor
of a lesbian couple who filed a discrimination suit against Aloha Bed
Phyllis Young, the owner of Aloha Bed &
Breakfast, denied accommodations to Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford
after inquiring whether they were a couple.
Cervelli and Bufford have been together
five years and live in Long Beach, California. They were in Hawaii
to visit a close friend and her newborn baby.
Young stated during a Hawaii Civil
Rights Commission (HCRC) investigation that she turned the couple
away because she believes gay relationships are “detestable” and
that they “defile our land.”
The First Circuit Court of Hawaii found
that Aloha Bed & Breakfast had violated the state's public
accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation and gender identity.
The couple was represented by Lambda
Legal in the lawsuit. HCRC joined the lawsuit.
“The court today rejected a legal
attack upon an important civil rights law that protects all people
from discriminatory business practices,” Lambda Legal staff
attorney Peter Renn said in a press release. “The court made clear
that no business is above the law. When you enter the commercial
world, you take on an obligation not to discriminate against
customers, no matter what the color of their skin, what religion they
practice, or whom they love. That very simple but fundamental
principle was vindicated today.”
“The court's decision is based on
Hawaii's strong state civil rights laws which prohibit
discrimination,” said William Hoshijo, executive director of HCRC.
“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.”