Alton gay wedding discrimination claim will go to hearingAlton gay wedding discrimination claim will go to hearing
Video: Civil unions recognized in Illinois Illinois began issuing civil union licenses on June 1 at the St. Clair County Courthouse. Carla Perry and Denise Walker of Collinsville were issued theirs.
- Related: Gay couple alleges discrimination by Alton business
- Related: Census shows gay couples raising children in St. Louis area
- Related: Belleville Diocese to join lawsuit against Illinois over foster care
- Related: Illinois issues 1,618 civil union licenses in first month
- Related: New York's gay marriage law boosts mood at St. Louis PrideFest
ALTON • The Illinois Department of Human Rights has found "substantial evidence" of discrimination against a gay couple who were turned down by two bed and breakfast inns, one in Alton, when looking for a place to host their civil union ceremony.
The finding is not a final decision but a procedural step that allows allegations to be heard by a "trier of fact."
In February, Todd and Mark Wathen of Mattoon, in east-central Illinois, filed complaints against Beall Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Alton and TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast near Paxton, Ill., alleging denials of use of public accommodations for discriminatory reasons. A law allowing same-sex civil unions in Illinois became effective June 1.
The complainants could ask for conciliation or for a hearing before the Illinois Human Rights Commission or a state circuit court. Todd Wathen said they would discuss their next steps with their attorney.
"We felt we were right in doing what we did," he said. "We are pleased by the fact that someone agrees with us."
The owners of the Alton B&B deny discrimination. According to an investigation report, they deny saying they would only host traditional weddings between a man and a woman.
Beall Mansion attorney John J. Hopkins said his clients look forward to a proceeding where the credibility of the evidence can be determined. Hopkins said he was confident they would be vindicated.
The Wathens were wed in a ceremony in their back yard on June 6. Todd Wathen said they didn't actively pursue other accommodations after being turned down by the two inns. He said another facility offered to host their ceremony but did not have any dates available that they wanted.
Posted in Crime-and-courts, Illinois, Metro, Govt-and-politics on Thursday, August 11, 2011 4:51 pm Updated: 5:40 pm. | Tags: Alton Il, Civil Union Law, Mark Wathen, Todd Wathen, Discrimination, Illinois Department Of Human Rights, Paxton Il, Mattoon Il, Beall Mansion Bed & Breakfast, Timbercreek Bed & Breakfast, Homosexuality,