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10/22/2012

Video: VT inn owners ignore facts, concessions they made in court in order to back discrimination in ME

by Jeremy Hooper

Here's the truth:

The Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act explicitly prohibits any public accommodations from denying goods and services based on customers’ sexual orientation. The law applies to inns, restaurants, schools, stores and any other business that serves the general public. The act contains exceptions for religious organizations and small inns with five or fewer rooms, though the Wildflower Inn fit neither category.

“It may seem strange to us today, but when federal civil rights laws were passed in the 1960s, some business owners argued that laws requiring racial desegregation violated their religious beliefs,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “People are entitled to their own personal religious beliefs, but when you choose to open up a public business you don’t have a right to pick and choose which customers you want to serve. This settlement reaffirms that businesses operating in the commercial sphere cannot use religion as a license to discriminate.”

As part of the settlement, the Wildflower Inn agreed to no longer host wedding receptions. The inn argued in court that the meetings and events manager misapplied the resort’s policies in turning away Kate and Ming. The resort stated that instead of turning away same-sex couples who seek to hold a wedding reception, their actual policy was to not respond to phone calls or e-mails about wedding receptions for same-sex couples or to have a conversation in which the owners explained to the couple that hosting a wedding reception for a same-sex couple conflicted with their religious beliefs.

As part of the settlement agreement, however, the Wildflower Inn agreed that Vermont law prohibits unequal treatment of same-sex couples, including a failure to respond to inquiries from those couples or discouraging those couples from using the facilities.

“Here in Vermont, we have a long history of being inclusive and welcoming to all people,” said Robert Appel, executive director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission. “This settlement makes clear that when you operate a public business in Vermont, you can’t discriminate.”
MORE:
Vermont Resort to Pay Fine and Revise Policies to Settle Discrimination Lawsuit by Lesbian Couple [ACLU]

Here's the false witness–bearing spin:

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