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US Supreme Court won’t hear B&B owner’s appeal for refusing lesbian couple

Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford sued a B&B owner for refusing them

The United States Supreme Court decided on Monday (18 March) they would not hear an appeal from the discriminatory bed and breakfast owner from Hawaii who turned a lesbian couple away.

In 2007, Aloha Bed & Breakfast owner Phyllis Young refused to allow a lesbian couple to stay at her establishment due to her Christian beliefs. The refusal happened when couple Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford from Southern California requested only one bed.

They had traveled to Honolulu to visit a friend. They further said the experience at the bed and breakfast ‘soured’ their trip.

‘In my past experiences in Hawaii, people have been so friendly. It was just hurtful. It made me feel we weren’t good enough,’ Cervelli said. She is no longer with Bufford.

The couple sued and several years later, in 2013, Hawaii’s First Circuit Court found in favor of them. The court’s judge ruled Young violated the state’s public accommodations law. This law disallows businesses from discriminating against clients on the basis of their sexual orientation, race, and gender identity.

Last year, another court delivered a blow to Young.

Hawaii’s Intermediate Court of Appeals upheld the previous ruling against her.

Young argued the state of Hawaii did not give her proper notice that her business fell under the public accommodations law. She then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Religion is not a right to discriminate

‘The freedom of religion does not give businesses a right to violate non-discrimination laws,’ said Peter Renn, a lawyer with Lambda Legal. They represented Cervelli and Bufford.

‘The Supreme Court declined to consider carving out an exception from this basic principle when a business discriminates based on the sexual orientation of its customers.’

Democrats recently introduced a bill, the Do No Harm Act, which protects religious freedom while also prohibiting it from being used to discriminate.

Young’s lawyer, James Hochberg, disagreed with such stances.

‘The government went after Mrs. Young’s constitutionally protected freedom simply for adhering to her faith on her own property,’ he said. ‘This kind of governmental coercion should disturb every freedom-loving American no matter where you stand on marriage.’

Supreme Court could hear a similar case later

This is not the only LGBTI discrimination case going before the Supreme Court for a possible hearing.

As soon as next week, the justices may decide whether or not to hear a similar case. In this one, a bakery in Oregon refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

Last year, the Supreme Court narrowly ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

That baker, Jack Phillips, recently ended another battle with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission after he refused to make a cake for a transgender person.

See also

A majority of Evangelicals now support LGBTI rights with the Equality Act

Lesbian couple forced out of transitional housing facility in Ohio

Plasma donation company sued for discriminating against a trans woman

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Author: Anya Crittenton