ACLU responds to Vermont innkeepers who turned away lesbian wedding
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling foul on a Vermont inn that last month refused to host the wedding reception for a lesbian couple. After filing suit against the Wildflower Inn on July 21 for turning away same-sex couple Kate Baker and Ming Linsley, the ACLU has received and reviewed the Inn’s legal response. The response acknowledges the owners’ refusal in hosting the couple’s reception was biased; it claims, however, that the innkeepers have a First Amendment right to discriminate in choosing their clientele.
"The ACLU plans to pursue this litigation vigorously," said Allen Gilbert, executive director of the ACLU of Vermont. "The Wildflower Inn owners do not deny that they refused to host Kate and Ming’s wedding reception. 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.
"This case is about discrimination, plain and simple. Vermont’s nondiscrimination laws have been on the books for nearly 20 years―long before civil unions or marriage equality in Vermont. The bottom line is that a business that is open to the public cannot deny service to customers based on their race, their religion, or their sexual orientation."
"We look forward to having the Vermont courts make it clear that this discrimination is illegal," said plaintiff Baker. "Nobody should ever be turned away because of who they are when they’re simply trying to hold a celebration with their family at a public venue."