The United States Supreme Court declined to hear oral arguments in a case about a Hawaiian bed and breakfast that refused on religious grounds to serve a lesbian couple, allowing a ruling against the business to stand. In an order the high court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari in the case of Cervelli v. Aloha Bed & Breakfast, thus upholding a lower court ruling against the small business. Phyllis Young, owner of the three-room Aloha Bed & Breakfast, will now face a penalty for her refusal in 2007 to rent a room to Diane Cervilli and Taeko Bufford, according to Reuters.
In 2011, Young was sued by the lesbian couple over the incident, being represented by the pro-LGBT law firm Lambda Legal. “When you open the doors of your business to the public, Hawaii law forbids you from discriminating against your customers,” said Peter Renn, staff attorney at Lambda. “You can’t roll up the welcome mat when you see a lesbian or gay couple, just as you can’t refuse to do business with Jewish customers, African-American customers, or disabled customers.” Young was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative law firm that has won multiple cases in the Supreme Court on issues involving religious liberty.
The ADF argued that “Phyllis only rented 1-3 rooms in her personal home so she did not fall under the Hawaii public accommodations law that makes sexual-orientation discrimination unlawful.” “And the Constitution also protects Phyllis’ right not to promote behaviour her faith teaches is immoral or to associate with people who are unwilling to respect her deeply held religious beliefs,” added the ADF. In 2013, a court ruled against Aloha B&B and in February of last year, Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals upheld that ruling. In May 2018, Aloha B&B filed an appeal with the Hawaii Supreme Court, only to have the state’s highest court reject the appeal request last July.
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