Lesbian Couple Not Welcome
A lesbian couple from Southern California were asked to leave the Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Honolulu, Hawaii after requesting an overnight room with one bed in 2007. Phyllis Young, the B& B owner, turned them away after she asked Diance Cervelli and Taeko Bufford if they were planning on sleeping in just one bed together. Young said she was uncomfortable accommodating gay people in her home because of her religious views and claimed that only married couples can book rooms.
The Couple Sues in 2011
Cervelli and Bufford sued Aloha Bed & Breakfast for discrimination. Said Cervelli, after the ruling, “in my past experiences in Hawaii, people have been so friendly. It was just hurtful. It made me feel we weren’t good enough,” Lambda Legal represented the couple. The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission also joined the lawsuit to protect and enforce the state anti-discrimination law.
The Judge Rules
Hawaiian First Circuit Judge ruled in favor of the lesbian couple and said the expulsion was an act in clear violation of the state’s public accommodations law. This law prohibits business owners from discriminating against customers based on race, color, religion, disability, and sexual orientation.
Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Peter Renn commented “you can roll up the welcome mat when you see a lesbian or gay couple, just as you can’t refuse to do business with Jewish customers, African-American customers, or disabled customers. Commission Executive Director William Hoshijo said “the court’s decision is based on Hawaii’s strong state civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination. When visitors or residents are subjected to discrimination, they suffer the sting of indignity, humiliation and outrage, but we are all demeaned and our society diminished by unlawful discrimination.”
Lawyer for Aloha Bed & Breakfast
The attorney representing Aloha Bed and Breakfast, Jim Hochberg, claims his client’s decision is protected under her First Amendment rights, and laws governing businesses have no place in his client’s home.” However, the judge’s ruling doesn’t seem to stop Young from planning on repeating her actions in the future. She told the Hawaii Human Rights Commission that homosexuality is “detestable” and “defies our land.”