Category Archives: Vermont

Same-Sex Marriage Law Targets Christian Business!

National Organization for Marriage

Dear Marriage Supporter,

Jim and Mary O'Reilly run The Wildflower Inn, a small Vermont Bed & Breakfast they started in 1985 and have managed together for 25 years.

But after Vermont passed a Civil Union law in April 2000, a gathering storm darkened the horizon of the Wildflower Inn's beautiful mountain view: Jim and Mary knew they could not conduct business in violation of their Catholic beliefs, and would kindly refer same-sex couples to other establishments for their celebrations.

Jim and Mary's position was upheld by a 2005 decision of the Vermont Civil Rights Commission. But the storm would break again in 2009, when Vermont passed same-sex marriage.

Please watch this brand-new video from the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance to hear Jim and Mary tell you, in their own words, what happened next:

Marriage Supporter, this is not an isolated instance. This is what happens every time and in every place that same-sex marriage becomes law.

Individuals are threatened, businesses attacked, faith communities ostracized and penalized—in short, all of the consequences ensue that same-sex marriage advocates continually lie and say will never happen.

Well, we're going to put a stop to it!

Donate to the National Organization for Marriage today so that we can defend good people like the O'Reilly family against the radical imposition of a same-sex marriage regime!

With only a couple of days left until the election, you know the stakes. States will vote on marriage; legislators and judges who sold out and imposed same-sex marriage elsewhere will finally face the voters; and we'll elect the next President, whose position on marriage will dramatically influence American culture in the next four years.

The National Organization for Marriage is working hard to win in all these races, but we need your help!

Will you give today to protect marriage—$50, $500, or even $5,000—and to protect good people like Jim and Mary O'Reilly from suffering the fallout that inevitably accompanies the legalization of same-sex marriage?

You will be the difference in this election—your vote, your voice, your action, and (if you have the means to go that extra, sacrificial mile) your contribution to America's leading defender of marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.

We're counting on you today. Please walk that extra mile for marriage—for the O'Reillys, for our churches, and for our children.

God bless you and thank you for all you do to protect marriage!

Vermont Innkeepers Pay $30,000 for Refusing Lesbian Couple


The Roman Catholic owners of a Vermont bed-and-breakfast inn agreed this week to pay a total of $30,000 to a lesbian couple that wanted to hold same-sex wedding reception on their property.

In exchange for the payment, the Vermont Human Rights Commission agreed that the O’Reilly family, who own the Wildflower Inn, acted in good faith. In 2005, the commission approved their business practice — which is to disclose to all potential customers their religious convictions while serving everyone. The O’Reillys will pay $20,000 to a trust fund the women set up, and $10,000 to the Human Rights Commission.

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU of Vermont in 2011, after Katherine Baker and Ming-Lien Linsley contacted the inn about their reception. A former employee falsely told them the O’Reillys wouldn’t allow it to be held on their property, then tried to steer the women toward her personal business.

Jim O’Reilly said his family was settling the case to end the ordeal and preserve their business.

Baptist Press: Religious Liberty Takes Hit in New Gay Marriage Lawsuits

The Baptist Press:

A series of lawsuits and a new court ruling are fresh examples of how laws granting marriage benefits to gay couples can end up squashing religious liberty, says a Christian attorney involved in one of the cases.

All four cases involve states with gay "marriage" or same-sex civil unions laws: Illinois, Vermont, Hawaii and New Jersey. In Vermont and Illinois, bed and breakfast owners were sued for declining to host a same-sex ceremony or reception, and in Hawaii, a bed and breakfast owner was sued after turning away a lesbian couple who wanted to make a reservation.

In New Jersey, a state judge ruled Jan. 12 that a Christian beachfront property operated by United Methodists violated state non-discrimination laws when it refused to host a lesbian couple's civil union ceremony.

Jim Campbell, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund -- which is representing the Methodist group -- said the cases prove that there is harm to religious liberty when states legalize gay "marriage" or civil unions or pass broad legislation incorporating sexual orientation into non-discrimination laws.

"When people hear that their legislature is considering a law like this and they think, 'What's the harm?' they need to realize that there is this direct threat to religious liberty -- to business owners, employees, religious entities and people who attend all those religious entities," Campbell told Baptist Press. "These four cases are a good demonstration of that. People who are concerned about religious liberty should be concerned about these legal developments."

Alan Sears on the Vermont Inn Owners' Courage To Stand for Marriage

Alan Sears, president and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund, in TownHall:

Wildflower Inn was voted Best Family Resort by Yankee magazine last year, and the word “family” pops up repeatedly on the website and in the Inn’s brochures. Clearly, that’s the favored clientele, although the Inn’s owners allow that their place is also ideal for romantic weekends. The Inn used to offer its facilities for weddings, too.

Not anymore. That aspect of Wildflower hospitality ended several months before a young couple filed a lawsuit against the Inn. According to the complaint, an employee refused the mother of the bride’s request to hold the wedding reception at the Inn, once she revealed that there were two brides and no groom.

... One can’t really help but wonder who the courageous ones are here – a same-sex couple who’ve managed to trap one of the most popular resorts in the state into an expensive lawsuit, at a time when homosexual behavior is surfing huge waves of legal, social, and cultural indulgence … or the Wildflower owners, who—according to the complaint—operate their family’s business in line with their personal moral convictions.

... It doesn’t take courage to ride the wave of support for same-sex ‘marriage.’ It takes courage to stand against the surging tide.

Vermont Inn Owners Claim Free Speech and Freedom of Association in Response to Lawsuit Brought by SS Couple

The Associated Press:

The owners of an inn that refused to host a same-sex wedding reception say they have no policy to discriminate against gay couples.

"We have never refused rooms or dining or employment to gays or lesbians," they said in a statement released in response to media inquiries. "Many of our guests have been same-sex couples. We welcome and treat all people with respect and dignity. We do not, however, feel that we can offer our personal services wholeheartedly to celebrate the marriage between same-sex couples because it goes against everything that we as Catholics believe in."

In their first court filing to answer the suit, the inn's owners insisted that applying Vermont's Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act would violate their right to free speech and freedom of association by forcing them to hold "expressive events."

... The ACLU and [Kate] Baker denounced it.

"The Wildflower Inn owners do not deny that they refused to host Kate and Ming's wedding reception," said Allen Gilbert, executive director of the ACLU chapter. "Instead, they continue to claim a right to discriminate against the couple, which is in violation of Vermont law. We are confident that the owners' claim that they have a First Amendment right to discriminate will be found meritless by the courts."

ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Innkeepers Who Refused to Host SS Ceremony Reception

The critical point in this story is how Vermont law does not offer individuals any religious protections when it comes to questions such as this one:

On July 19, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Wildflower Inn, a 24-room facility in Vermont, for refusing to host a wedding reception for a lesbian couple from Brooklyn, N.Y. The couple is asking for $1, as an injunction against the inn’s “discriminatory practices.”

Vermont, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2009, also has a Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act, which keeps inns, motels and hotels with five or more rooms from turning patrons away based on their sexual orientation.

... The state law contains an exemption for religious organizations — but offers no protections for religious individuals.

“No one’s focusing on the willingness of these owners to hire or rent rooms to homosexuals,” noted Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for CitizenLink. “To me, this is a case of the activists wanting to make sure no Christian gets any consideration at anytime, anywhere, for their religious beliefs.” --CitizenLink

Vermont Catholic Innkeepers: Honoring Our Beliefs About Marriage Isn't Discrimination

The Associated Press adds more detail to the story we posted yesterday about Catholic innkeepers in Vermont being sued by the ACLU for refusing to rent their facilities for a wedding reception of two New York women:

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union's Vermont chapter on behalf of Kate Baker and Ming Linsley, said the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville turned away the couple last fall and that at least two other same-sex couples were also refused because of the inn's owner has a "no-gay-reception policy."

... The inn's owners, Jim and Mary O'Reilly, issued a statement saying they are devout Catholics who believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.

"We have never refused rooms or dining or employment to gays or lesbians," they wrote. "Many of our guests have been same-sex couples. We welcome and treat all people with respect and dignity. We do not however, feel that we can offer our personal services wholeheartedly to celebrate the marriage between same-sex couples because it goes against everything that we as Catholics believe in."

... "This is a discrimination case," [Josh Block, a lawyer for ACLU] said. "It would be no different if you owned a store and said we don't want to sell clothes to you or give you food or any other public accommodation. The fact that it's occurring in a new context shouldn't affect the way we think about it."

Christian Innkeepers in Vermont Sued By SS Couple After Refusing to Host Their NY Wedding Reception

In the AP:

Two New York women say a Vermont inn refused to host their wedding reception because of the owners' anti-gay bias. The couple is now suing, alleging discrimination under the state's public accommodations law.

Kate Baker and Ming Linsley say they were turned away by the Wildflower Inn, a 24-room inn in Lyndonville, when they told the inn the wedding would have two brides but no groom.

... The American Civil Liberties Union's Vermont chapter filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Caledonia Superior Court. It says the inn violated the state Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act, which bars public accommodations from denying services to people based on sexual orientation.

Northeast Action Plan

NOM launched its Northeast Action Plan today with a series of radio ads airing in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The ads open with a child asking questions about same-sex marriage: "If my Dad married a man, who would be my Mom?" Listeners then hear an urgent marriage alert, asking them to contact their legislators in opposition to same-sex marriage legislation pending in the three states.

We need your help! Please make a generous donation today to help us keep these ads on the air!

Click here to listen to the radio ad.

Click a button below to send a message to your state legislators!