Kate and Ming Linsley of New York have reached an accord with Mary and Jim O’Reilly, the owners of the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, VT. The O’Reillys violated Vermont law by denying the Linsleys the use of their inn for their wedding reception. As part of the settlement, the resort will pay $10,000 to the Vermont Human Rights Commission and give $20,000 to a charitable trust to be distributed by the Linsleys.
The Wildflower Inn has also agreed to no longer host wedding receptions.
Ming Linsley, 35, stated that “We’re glad that the Wildflower Inn has recognized that the way we were treated was wrong and that no other family will have to experience what we did. All families should feel welcome at any resort that’s open to the public.”
The Linsleys had planned on having their wedding ceremony at a Buddhist retreat near the inn. When Ming Linsley’s mother Channie Peters tried to book with the Inn, she was informed via email that the inn did not accept same-sex marriage receptions.
The Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act prohibits any public accommodation from discriminating based on sexual orientation. There is an exception made in the cases of religious organizations and inns with fewer than six rooms.
Kate Linsley, 32, stated that “We didn’t want to stay quiet and allow businesses to continue to think they can discriminate.”
Jim O’Reilly stated via the Alliance Defending Freedom that his business could not “match the limitless resources of the government and the ACLU. The Wildflower Inn has always served – and will continue to serve – everyone in our community. But no one can force us to abandon our deeply held beliefs about marriage.”
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Vermont since 2009, and no one asked the O’Reillys to give up their religious beliefs. All that was required of them was to follow the law.