Complaints on two Illinois bed and breakfast facilities that host wedding celebrations but refuse civil union ceremonies have been filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, Now Gay in Chicago reports.
Todd Wathen said owners of the Beall Mansion, in Alton, Ill., north of St. Louis, and Timber Creek Bed & Breakfast, in Paxton, Ill., about 120 miles south of Chicago, told him that they would not schedule a civil union ceremony for Wathen and his partner.
The law allows churches to refuse civil unions, but the non-discrimination law does not protect lodging facilities. The argument appears to be headed for a court judgement to clarify Illinois' new law. Now Gay in Chicago writes:
The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations. The civil unions law that gives gay and lesbian couples most of the same rights and benefits married couples receive from the state of Illinois goes into effect in June. It includes an exception for religious groups, stating that no church can be forced to sanction or celebrate a civil union if it goes against church beliefs. That exemption does not cover the religious beliefs of business owners; the question for legal officials and IDHR will be whether or not a business that publicly advertises that it hosts weddings is legally required to also host civil unions.