Same-Sex Couple Accuses Innkeepers of Discrimination

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05pm EDT

( - Should a Vermont couple, wedding planners, be forced to host a same-sex civil union ceremony at their family-owned inn, if they object to such unions?

A lesbian couple says yes, and it has filed a discrimination charge against the innkeepers, accusing them of violating Vermont's Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act.

The innkeepers, identified only as Jim and Mary, say they did not refuse to plan or host the reception - but Jim did tell the woman who called him that he would have a hard time putting his heart into the event, given his Roman Catholic beliefs about marriage.

The Liberty Counsel, which is representing Jim and Mary, has asked that the discrimination charge against them be dismissed on the grounds that the innkeepers, although they expressed reservations about the civil union ceremony, did not refuse to plan and host the event.

The Liberty Counsel says there must be an exemption to the discrimination charge based upon the free exercise of religion, free association, and the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. (Jim and Mary have eight children who help run the inn, which is located on the same property as the family's home.)

"This case seeks to authorize the government to become thought police," said Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel.

"This case also illustrates the radical nature of the same-sex agenda - to target a family-owned inn based upon one telephone call wherein the [innkeeper] clearly admits that he
could not put his heart into a same-sex civil union ceremony.

"Forget tolerance - this case is about forcing others to endorse same-sex unions."

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