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Hawaii Appeals Court Rules Against Christian B&B After Lesbians Sue

02-27-2018

In yet another ruling against Christians with deeply-held beliefs attempting to run their own business, a Hawaii appeals court has sided against the owners of a bed and breakfast who denied renting a lesbian couple a room in their own home.

The Aloha Bed and Breakfast is owned by Phyllis Young and her husband. The bed and breakfast is actually rooms in their personal residence that Young rents out during the year to help with expenses. Guests share living space with the Youngs and are treated like family during their stay. 

Young applies the same rules to guests that she would any family member: Only married couples may share a room with one bed, unmarried couples must sleep in different rooms. 

Phyllis Young's Christian beliefs do not allow her to promote or facilitate a non-marital sexual relationship or a romantic relationship between two individuals of the same sex.

Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford of Long Beach, California, tried to book a room in 2007 at the Aloha Bed and Breakfast, because it's in the same Honolulu neighborhood where they were visiting a friend, according to the Associated Press.

Young politely declined the lesbian couple a room due to her religious beliefs. The couple filed a complaint against Young in 2011 with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission for sexual-orientation discrimination.

Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom represented Phyllis Young in all of the legal proceedings. According to a legal summary, the ADF explained to the commission that because Phyllis only rented 1 - 3 rooms in her personal home she did not fall under the Hawaii public accommodations law that makes sexual-orientation discrimination unlawful.  And the Constitution also protects Phyllis' right not to promote behavior her faith teaches is immoral or to associate with people who are unwilling to respect her deeply held religious beliefs.      

A state trial court judge declined to consider the arguments and concluded that Phyllis engaged in sexual-orientation discrimination. The judge then ordered Phyllis to violate her Christian beliefs by allowing any same-sex couple who asks to share a room in her home. 

The ADF appealed the case to the appellate court. 

The Intermediate Court of Appeals last week agreed with a lower court ruling that found Young had violated the law, discriminating against the couple on the basis of their sexual orientation.

According to the legal summary of the case available online, the ADF stated there are three basic freedoms that could be in jeopardy.

First, the freedom to operate a business according to your deeply held beliefs without the fear of being punished by the government. Second, the ability to own and operate a business without endorsing a view with which you disagree.  And third, the freedom to determine which overnight guests you allow to stay in your personal residence.

Legal experts say Young could ask the Hawaii state supreme court to review her case.  If the court declines, because of her First Amendment claim, she could take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

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