Hotel owner fined $80,000 for refusing to host civil union ceremony

© ZHKing /

A hotel owner in Illinois has been fined $80,000 after he refused to allow a gay couple to hire his venue for their civil union ceremony.

A Human Rights Commission heard that TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast owner Jim Walder had sent an email sent to the couple saying homosexuality was “immoral and unnatural,”

In refusing the service, the hotel was in breach of the law – the state’s Human Rights Commission ordered the Paxton-based venue to pay $30,000 to the couple, Todd and Mark Wathen, $50,000 in legal fees, and $1,218.35 in costs.

Todd Wathen said in a statement following the ruling on Tuesday: “We are very happy that no other couple will have to experience what we experienced by being turned away and belittled and criticised for who we are.”

Illinois has protected the LGBT community from discrimination of sexual orientation since 2006. The state legalised civil unions back in 2011 – when the couple tried to hire the venue for their special day – and marriage equality was legalised in 2013.

The hotel describes itself as a bed and breakfast but also advertises as a wedding venue, charging anything from $465 to $10,895 to couples dependent on their budget and number of guests.

Words Georgia Pearce



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