ILLINOIS: Bed & Breakfast Fined $80K For Refusing To Host 2011 Civil Unions Ceremony For Gay Couple

The Springfield News-Gazette reports:

A bed-and-breakfast near Paxton that turned down a same-sex couple’s request to hold a civil-union ceremony there in 2011 has been ordered to pay $30,000 in damages to the couple and $50,000 to their attorneys and to stop violating the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Michael R. Robinson, an administrative law judge appointed by the Illinois Human Rights Commission, entered a “recommended order and decision” awarding the damages to Todd and Mark Wathen of Tuscola.

“We are very happy that no other couple will have to experience what we experienced by being turned away and belittled and criticized for who we are,” Todd Wathen said. “In addition, the monetary award represents a recognition by the judge that Mark and I suffered a real harm — that we were embarrassed and humiliated.”

In September, Robinson ruled that Jim Walder violated the civil rights of the Wathens when he denied them the opportunity to hold their civil-union ceremony at the B&B he co-owns with his wife — the TimberCreek Bed-and-Breakfast west of Paxton.

Walder did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment Tuesday on whether he would fully comply with the judge’s order. During November’s hearing, he said he would never host same-sex civil unions or weddings at his B&B, even if Illinois law requires it.

From my initial 2011 report:

“We will never host same-sex civil unions. We will never host same-sex weddings even if they become legal in Illinois,” Timber Creek operators told [Todd] Wathen in an e-mail. “We believe homosexuality is wrong and unnatural based on what the Bible says about it. If that is discrimination, I guess we unfortunately discriminate.” When informed of Illinois’s new civil unions law, Jim Walder of Timber Creek replied, “The Bible does not state opinions, but facts. It contains the highest laws pertinent to man. It trumps Illinois law, United States law, and global law should there ever be any.” Walder later sent an unsolicited e-mail of Bible passages to Wathen. He wrote, “Hi Todd, I know you may not want to hear this, but I thought I would send along a couple of verses in Romans 1 detailing how the Creator of the Universe looks at the gay lifestyle. It’s not to late to change your behavior.”

(Tipped by JMG reader Jon)