A lesbian couple denied a room won their case against a bed and breakfast in Hawaii. The couple was turned down for a room at the Aloha Bed & Breakfast when the owner realized they would be sharing a bed.
Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford booked the room in Hawaii Kai as they were visiting a friend who lived in the area. The California couple spoke with the owner upon checking in and were questioned when they requested only one bed.
As reported by the SF Examiner, the owner asked the couple if they were lesbians. Preferring to be honest, they admitted their sexual orientation. The owners cited their religious views and refused to let them stay.
The couple, represented by Lambda Legal, filed a lawsuit against the owner of Aloha Bed & Breakfast for discrimination. The claim of discrimination was based on Hawaiian law that prohibits the denial of lodging in a public establishment due to race, color, religion, disability, heritage, or sexual orientation.
Jim Hochberg, attorney for the bed & breakfast, contends that his clients were simply expressing their opinion, which is protected under the First Amendment. He criticized the court’s opinion in favor of the lesbians who were denied the room, stating that “the public needs to be aware of this decision… it has far-reaching consequences.”
Hochberg discusses his opinion at alliancealert.com. In an interview, the attorney contends that his clients had the freedom to disallow the lesbian couple to stay in their home as it is against her religious beliefs. He points out that the bed and breakfast is not a public establishment under Hawaiian law as the couple simply rents rooms in their home.
As reported by Fox News, the judge did not agree with the defense and ruled in favor of the lesbian couple. By denying them a room, the judge ruled that the bed and breakfast owners violated Hawaii’s civil rights law.