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Illinois hotel owner fined $80,000 for refusing to host gay civil union ceremony

Illinois hotel owner fined $80,000 for refusing to host gay civil union ceremony

Illinois’ state Human Rights Commission has ordered the homophobic owner of a hotel to pay a fine of $80,000 after he refused to allow the venue to be hired for a same-sex couple’s civil union ceremony in 2011.

Illinois had only legalized civil unions earlier that year and marriage equality would not come to the state until November of 2013.

However Illinois has protected people from discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation since 2006 in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations or credit – meaning that the hotel was in breach of the law.

The commission handed down it’s order on Tuesday, requiring TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast in Paxton, Illinois, to pay $30,000 to couple Todd and Mark Wathen.

The commission also ordered TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast to pay $50,000 in legal fees and $1,218.35 in costs.

Not only had TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast owner Jim Walder refused to rent the venue to the Wathens but he also wrote to them by email to tell them that ‘homosexuality is immoral and unnatural,’ the commission heard.

‘We are very happy that no other couple will have to experience what we experienced by being turned away and belittled and criticized for who we are,’ Todd Wathen said in a statement following the commission’s decision.

Although the hotel describes itself as a bed and breakfast it has an occupancy of up to 18 people and also advertises itself as a wedding venue and charges anything from $465 to $10,895 to couples who wish to marry there depending on their budget and the number of guests.