Hawaii Supreme Court sides with lesbian couple in B&B case

  • FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2011 file photo, Taeko Bufford, left, and Diane Cervelli pose for a photo near Waikiki beach in Honolulu. A Hawaii appeals court ruling that a bed and breakfast discriminated against a couple by denying a room to two women because they're gay will stand after the state's high court declined to take up the case. The Hawaii Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, rejected Phyllis Young’s appeal of a lower court ruling that ordered her to stop discriminating against same-sex couples. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

HONOLULU — A Hawaii appeals court ruling that a bed and breakfast discriminated by denying a room to two women because they’re gay will stand after the state’s high court declined to take up the case.

Aloha Bed & Breakfast owner Phyllis Young had argued she should be allowed to turn away gay couples because of her religious beliefs.


But the Hawaii Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously rejected Young’s appeal of a lower court ruling that ordered her to stop discriminating against same-sex couples.

Young is considering her options for appeal, said Jim Campbell, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian law firm that is representing her. He said Young might not be able to pay her mortgage and could lose her home if she’s not able to rent rooms.

“Everyone should be free to live and work according to their religious convictions — especially when determining the living arrangements in their own home,” Campbell said in an emailed statement.

Peter Renn, who represents the couple, said the Hawaii high court’s order indicates the law hasn’t changed even after the U.S. Supreme Court last month, in a limited decision, sided with a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. He said “there still is no license to discriminate.”

“The government continues to have the power to protect people from the harms of discrimination, including when it’s motivated by religion,” said Renn, who is a senior attorney with Lambda Legal, an organization that defends LGBTQ rights.

Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford of Long Beach, California, tried to book a room at Aloha Bed & Breakfast in 2007 because they were visiting a friend nearby. When they specified they would need just one bed, Young told them she was uncomfortable reserving a room for lesbians and canceled the reservation.

Cervelli and Bufford filed complaints with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission.

Young told the commission she is Catholic and believes that homosexuality is wrong, according to the appeals court ruling. The commission found that the business illegally discriminated against the couple and issued Cervelli and Bufford “right to sue” notices.

Cervelli and Bufford filed their lawsuit in 2011.


Last month the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The nation’s highest court found that a Colorado civil rights commission showed anti-religious bias when it ruled against Jack Phillips for refusing to make the cake at his Masterpiece Cakeshop.

The decision, however, did not address the larger issue of whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gay and lesbian people.

  1. Rick Ruchty July 11, 2018 4:09 pm

    I would like to have the Supreme Court have an independent review of every religion to determine exactly what they have as written evidence that their religion either allows discrimination or specifically denounces homosexuality. If the law is going to continue to allow individuals to hide behind religion, then the courts must determine what those religions have written, not just what all of these “believers” say it says. Discrimination is wrong for any reason, plain and simple. If you want to conduct any type of public business in the United States, discrimination of any kind should shut you down. Jesus had two fathers and he seems to have turned out just fine.

    1. blunt TrUth July 11, 2018 6:00 pm

      LOL. Indeed, Phyllis Young and Peter Renn have chosen to expose themselves as a couple of catholic dipshits.

    2. sonneofmanisrael July 12, 2018 4:14 am

      He had one Father. You know nothing about the Lord.

      1. Rick Ruchty July 12, 2018 7:09 am

        My apologies. And just how many years did you spend in seminary? I spent four. I guess that means I’m ignorant.

        1. sonneofmanisrael August 8, 2018 10:05 pm

          You do err in terms of scripture. That’s knowledge of the Lord. Where? Starr King? San Francisco Theological Seminary? I did not see you there. When you were corrected did you sulk and try to put the learned brothers down? You conversing with a sonne of man. There is but one Father in Christian theology. Christ said it. Please read and heed. The other stuff you wrote was confused in law as well. Aloha…

  2. Michael July 12, 2018 10:50 am

    If you choose to do business with the public, you accept the laws governing non-discrimination. Unless these two ladies asked you to join them in the bed, no one is asking you to do anything against your religion lady. Its disgusting how these people cry about their religious rights while they trample on others rights.

    Matthew 7:1-3 King James Version (KJV)

    7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

    1. sonneofmanisrael August 9, 2018 5:47 pm

      What about true judgment?

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