Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford, California Lesbian Couple, Sue Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Honolulu over Anti-Gay Discrimination

A lesbian couple from southern California who were denied a room at a Honolulu bed and breakfast because of their sexual orientation are now suing.

According to the Associated Press, Diane Cerveli, 42, and Taeko Bufford, 28, attempted to book a room at the Aloha Bed & Breakfast in east Honolulu in 2007. Cervelli phoned the B&B and informed owner Phyllis Young, a devout Christian, that she would only need one bed. Young then asked Cervelli if she was a lesbian, and when she responded truthfully she was told that Young was uncomfortable hosting lesbians due to her religious views.

Cervelli (L) and Bufford. (Photo: Facebook)

Young then told Cervelli that she would refuse to rent a room to an unmarried heterosexual couple as well. But she also confessed that she wouldn’t let Cervelli and Bufford stay at her establishment even if they were married.

That’s against the law in Hawaii. The couple’s attorney, Peter Renn of Lamba Legal (Los Angeles) told the AP that refusing to allow the couple to book a room solely because of their sexual orientation violates Hawaii’s public accommodation law.

Cervelli and Bufford say their experience “soured” their Hawaiian vacation.

“In my past experiences in Hawaii, people have been so friendly,” Cervelli told the AP. “It was just hurtful. It made me feel we weren’t good enough.”

According to the couple’s lawsuit, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission carried out an investigation in which Young admitted she believed homosexuality is “detestable” and that gays “defile our land.” As a result, the Commission found “reasonable cause to believe that unlawful discriminatory practices have been committed” and notified Cervelli and Bufford of their right to sue.

Young is being represented by attorney Jim Hochberg of the Alliance Defense Fund, a group of lawyers whose clients claim their religious freedom is being violated.

What do Cervelli and Bufford want? For Aloha B&B to be ordered to comply with the law, for the court to declare that what happened to them was illegal, and certain unspecified monetary compensation, according to the AP. But Renn says it’s not about the money.

“No amount of money is going to erase the humiliation and pain,” he said.

 

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