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Case pits gay rights vs religious freedom

Case pits gay rights vs religious freedom

Evangelical B&B owners refused to rent a room to gay couple
The BC Human Rights Tribunal will hear a complaint from a gay couple who say they were discriminated against by a Grand Forks, BC, bed and breakfast.

But the owners of the bed and breakfast say their religious freedom allowed them to refuse to rent a room with a single bed to Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas.

The information is detailed in a decision by tribunal member Murray Geiger-Adams, who ordered the case to proceed on March 3.

The bed and breakfast owners had applied for the case to be dismissed.

In a call to the Riverbend Bed and Breakfast on June 18, 2009, Eadie reserved a room through Susan Molnar for June 19 and 20.

However, several minutes later, the decision says Les Molnar called and asked if Eadie and Thomas were a gay couple. Eadie confirmed they were.

"I'm sorry, I don't think it's going to work out," Eadie alleges Molnar told him, according to court documents.

The couple did not stay with the Molnars, who are Protestant evangelical Christians.

Les Molnar acknowledges denying the couple the accommodation they reserved.

Geiger-Thomas quotes Molnar as saying that to "allow a gay couple to share a bed in my Christian home would violate my Christian beliefs and cause me and my wife great distress" and would be "encouraging something which I believe to be wrong according to my religious beliefs and understanding of scripture."

The Molnars submit their "private dwelling house should have a modified standard under the BC Human Rights Code under specific restrictive circumstances because of our religious (moral) beliefs."

They say they're protected by their Charter rights to freedom of religion and association. They say that right must prevail over the complainants' rights to be protected from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Geiger-Adams cites a number of cases, specifically Smith and Chymyshyn v. Knights of Columbus and others.

In that November 2005 case, the BC Human Rights Tribunal upheld the Knights of Columbus' religious freedom when it ruled they didn't have to rent their hall to a lesbian wedding that would run contrary to their core beliefs.

Geiger-Adams notes the Molnars may have been acting in good faith. But, he adds, discrimination does not require intention to violate the code. "It is not a respondent's intention, but the effect of their conduct on a complainant, which is relevant in considering whether discrimination has occurred," he writes.

He notes the Molnars call the complaint "trifling and wanting in substance."

However, he notes Eadie and Thomas experienced "distress and anger" as a result of the situation.

"Proceeding with the complaint may further the purposes of the Code, which include preventing discrimination and providing a means of redress for those who experience it," Geiger-Adams concluded.

The case is set to be heard May 4 and 5 in Kelowna.

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Comments

Hurtful
I was once denied even looking at an apartment in the westend of Vancouver 25 years ago because we were two men. I remember the anger but most of all the hurt. Once again denied a single room with a double bed in a motel in Northern California because we were two men. Discrimination is wrong period. If this couple were truly as Christian as they say they are, their hearts would be bigger than this. They shouldn't be running a business as a B&B if they have such issues.
sorry Miss Partridge
But thanks, I needed a chuckle today, the fact that you counted the words I used is very amusing indeed. I guess I was too focused on my thoughts and ideas to worry about proper sentence structure. I'll try to do better next time Miss P.
Good, Decent Hetero Couples
I wonder if they check to see if every heterosexual couple, who stay at the B & B, are married or do they allow any couple no questions asked. The Bible has a clear stance on a couple who are not married. But, I guess they pick and choose scriptures of the Bible to suit their own homophobic needs.
Not so simple
I do think a private home -- B&B notwithstanding -- should be exempt from a HR complaint of discrimination. It is analogous to renting to a roommate in my mind. I have stayed in B&B's where the owner lives in an adjacent house so its not under the same roof. In that case it is more analogous to an inn or hotel and should be treated as any other business and not discriminate.

Personally, I wouldn't want to rent lodgings to a group of evangelicals if I owned a B&B.
signage
The owners of the B&B should have the right to deny whoever they want, but they should also be ordered to make it clear in the advertising and in the reservation contract that they run a Christian establishment. That way gay people will know not to ever book a room there. It was a bastardly thing to do kicking the couple out for no other reason than for being gay, and I would have been pissed too. But at the same time if I was running a B&B or renting my cottage I'd happily discriminate against religious zealots, and I should have that right. If it was a hotel that's a different story, but if it was my own home then it should be my own rules, however politically incorrect.
The real sin
The real sin here is not that Miss Partridge’s 13-word sentence contains an obvious spelling error, but that she actually counted the words in Rich’s giant sentence!
I'll tell you what's a sin, Rich!
A sentence comprised of 162 words is a mortal since in any faith.
...however...
There is no religious right to discriminate against those considered sinners, there is nothing in the bible about denying services to those you consider to be sinners, in fact in the bible Jesus went out of his way to spend time with, eat dinner with and talk to those considered sinners, shunning them was never condoned by Jesus though I'm uncertain of other religion's beliefs concerning those they consider sinners. I think it would be different if there was a religious obligation to avoid contact with those considered sinners but I don't know of any religion where that is the case but if it were then there might be a basis for a defense based on religious rights. In any conflict between religious rights and any other in my opinion it should be the religious right that gives way to the other rights since they are based on immutable characteristics and because religion is voluntary and changeable, the other protected classes are not with the exception of political belief though I'm not sure that's an actual protected class, sex/gender can be changed but it takes extreme measures to do so and is in practice unchangeable for people who aren't transgendered but you can't change your skin colour, ethnicity or sexual orientation, only your religion which is especially easy to change in terms of acceptance of gays and lesbians and even still its only same sex sexual activity that is considered a sin and not simply being an LGBT person so at worst there was a risk that someone they rented a room to might commit a sin in their dwelling but not that renting to them would be considered a sin for the owners. I do support religious rights for those who believe but they should never be allowed to become a cover for simple bigotry, that does a disservice to the religion as well as those being discriminated against.
interesting case
I would like to see the outcome and hear the arguments in this case since I think it'll be interesting in that bed and breakfasts fall in between a commercial establishment and a private home. I definitely think the Knights of Columbus should not have been allowed to get away with discriminating against the lesbian wedding party in their hall since that is solely a commercial venue however this case is different. It'd be would be similar if it were a cottage on the home property that was being rented out since its a separate dwelling but since its in a private home to be shared by the owner and the renters there may be a case for allowing discrimination based on whatever in the same way that renting a room in an apartment is considered different than renting an apartment. Personally I wouldn't have wanted to stay with bigots anyways but I can definitely understand the anger of the couple denied the room.
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