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Vermont Hotel Owners Sued Over Violations Of Public Accommodations Law

Jim Burroway

July 20th, 2011

A lesbian couple is suing a Vermont hotel owner after the hotel refused to host their wedding reception. Kate Baker and Ming Linsley say that the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, VT, abruptly turned them away after learning they are lesbians, an act which violates Vermont’s Fair Housing and Accommodations Act. That law prohibits inn, hotels, motels, and other establishments with five or more rooms from turning away patrons on the basis of race, religion, and sexual orientations, among other reasons. The ACLU, which is handling the lawsuit, claims that at least two other couples have been turned away as well.

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Rachel H
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

If US newspapers are anything like UK newspapers, this news will be reported as “gay couples persecute good-hearted hoteliers”.

Oh, and someone will probably have their voicemail hacked.

gar
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

In Vermont? Really?

TampaZeke
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

Though I believe such discrimination should be illegal and I applaud this action, I can’t for the life of me understand why so many gay people are so determined to give their money to people who hate them and will probably turn around and donate all or part of that gay money to anti-gay organizations.

My advice, which when combined with $3.50 will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks: Win the case and then take your hard earned pink dollars to a business, family or individual who actually likes you and supports you and the rest of the gay community.

andrew
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

No, sue them *and* take your business elsewhere. Put their names and faces in every newspaper and make sure their reputations stick.

BlackDog
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

Hmmm, I thought the objective of any business was to serve the customer and make a profit by doing so. I wasn’t aware that gay people’s money was somehow less than straight people’s money, either.

All I can say is, those hotel owners should be penalized as much for poor service as for discrimination. They serve the customer, not the other way around, and until they get that figured out they deserve to have a reputation for crappy service.

I for one don’t know of any small business in this economy that can AFFORD to discriminate against its customers and I hope these idiots lose their ass not only for bigotry but for pure stupidity. Maybe then they’ll think “Well maybe I shouldn’t of done that.”

WildBigotInn
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

Jim, the owner, response to a previous charge of bigotry on TripAdvisor. The classic, “I have gay friends” claim.

“Bigots, also no Wifi”
Reviewed April 4, 2011 We went for a romantic weekend getaway. The location is breathtaking and the rooms were fine. The local mountain biking is awesome. However, the service at the Wildflow Inn was just awful. The staff were cold and unfriendly to us and seemed homophobic. They advertise “wifi available in room.” This is a complete lie. The signal was so weak, we were never able to use it. When we asked to use it in the main house, the staff were less than accommodating. Also, the Juniper Restaurant refused to give us the “anniversary special” because we are two women.

Boo! Don’t stay here if you are queer or support those who are. These people are bigots.

JimAtWildflowerInn, Owner at Wildflower Inn, responded to this review
April 14, 2011 Wow, how do I respond to a review like this? Bigots, homophobic – far from it. We have a number of friends that are homosexual, we have many guests that are homosexual and we’ve employed homosexuals. So that statement is totally untrue. I have never seen any of our staff treat any guest differently because of their sexual preference.
As for the anniversary dinner, I’m not sure what this guest’s experience was as it was in September and this review was posted in April. I’m not sure what the 7 month delay in this person’s posting is all about.. Let me say that the “anniversary” dinner that we offered was not for the guests anniversary, but was in celebration of the inn being 25 years old. It was a fixed price menu for $25 and was available Monday-Thursday nights. Everybody and anybody could get this menu as long as it was Monday-Thursday.
As for the WIFI, yes, we did have problems with it last Fall. We are in a rural area and we had equipment issues that took weeks to resolve. It has since been fixed and we do have WIFI in all the rooms again.
I do want to make a point in saying that we do treat all guests the same. If you read our other reviews you will see that we strive to give everyone the best possible experience. It is obvious that we did not meet that goal with this guest and I just wish I had had some input when they were here, or at least immediately after their stay so I could have rectified their dissatisfaction.
Thank you, Jim O’Reilly, Innkeeper and owner since 1985.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g57311-d82608-r102762662-Wildflower_Inn-Lyndonville_Northeast_Kingdom_Vermont.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

Timothy Kincaid
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

Zeke,

Good point. And if the hoteliers were wise they would have said, “I disapprove of gay marriage and would rather not have your reception here. But as I cannot refuse you service based on your orientation, I will be donating 100% of your fee to NOM.” Problem solved. They can stay homophobes and equality supporters can take their business elsewhere.

Timothy Kincaid
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

I just love it when they say, “We have a number of friends that are homosexual.”

No. You don’t.

Really. I don’t know you and I still know that you don’t have gay friends.

Because if you had even one gay person with whom you had a close enough relationship to be called “friend”, you would know that gay folks prefer to be called gay rather than homosexual and that we talk about orientation rather than preference.

Ben In Oakland
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

I caught that H’homosexual” gaffe as well.

Meanwhile, as poleasing as it might be to sue, I think that time and energy owuld be better spent going elsehwer,e and PUBLICIZING the homobigots.

The answer to bad speech is more speech.

Regan DuCasse
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

Why don’t these people PUT UP A SIGN, or a disclaimer stating who they will and won’t serve?
How are gay people supposed to know, otherwise? These hoteliers take a deposit, then when the couples shows up with not a lot of other options, then they get sucker punched when they arrive.

The problem with these people and their rejections, is if it’s religious there are OTHER people who meet their criteria. Who they would have to ASK to find out. But they could STILL post a sign that informs anyone else who they will serve and who they won’t.

They might invoke their 1st amendment rights to post such signs, but the marketplace could decide which actually works.
They deserve to be sued because they don’t give FAIR WARNING.

But we all know why they don’t, right?

ZRAinSWVA
July 21st, 2011 | LINK

Regan DuCasse, you’re probably right: they should post a sign so we can avoid patronizing their business. It still gives me shivers to think about, though. “NO HOMOSEXUALS ALLOWED”. Bad kharma, that.

My husband and I love B&B’s, and we always ask up front if they have a problem with same sex couples. If they do, we take our business elsewhere. It would be great if we didn’t have to do so, but I’d rather have a pleasant visit than to feel this lurking cloud of disapproval hovering over us.

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