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Friday, August 12, 2011

Alton gay wedding discrimination claim will go to hearing!

Alton gay wedding discrimination claim will go to hearing

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Alton gay wedding discrimination claim will go to hearing

BY TERRY HILLIG • thillig@post-dispatch.com > 618-659-2075 STLtoday.com | Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011 4:51 pm | Loading…

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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.

Copyright 2011 STLtoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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,

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