Ill. B&B Owner Won’t Host Same-Sex Weddings
The owner of a bed and breakfast in Illinois is making headlines Tuesday after vowing he will not host same-sex weddings at his venue, Central Illinois' The News-Gazette reports.
Jim Walder, who owns the TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast near Paxton, Ill., (about 111 miles north east of Springifled, Ill.) told the newspaper he won't allow LGBT couples to marry at his B&B, even though Illinois legalized same-sex marriage last June.
"As long as I own TimberCreek, there will never be a gay marriage at this wedding venue," Walder, who said he is a Christian, told the paper.
The News-Gazette notes that Walder has long opposed marriage equality and LGBT rights. In 2011, same-sex couple Todd and Mark Wathen filed a civil rights complaint against him, claiming he discriminated against them when he refused to host their civil union ceremony at TimerCreek.
He is currently waiting a ruling on that case from the Illinois Human Rights Commission. Walder said he expects further issues will arise since Illinois now recognizes marriage equality, but hopes lawmakers will amend the law so businesses like his can refuse to hold same-sex weddings based on religious and personal beliefs.
"I totally support exemptions for everyone doing business in the wedding industry regarding civil unions or gay marriage," Walder said. He also warned that "our current legal predicament could be the predicament of other businesses in Paxton, as well," like photographers, caterers, cake bakers or wedding planners.
Walder said the Wathens' complaint has "caused us to lose a few weddings with brides and grooms who do not agree and decide to take their business elsewhere, but that's OK. Overall our business is up substantially since the Wathens filed their complaint. We hosted 26 weddings last year."
He added that a number of same-sex couples have asked about using his B&B for their ceremonies, including "a female who supposedly fell in love with TimberCreek from our website and wanted to have her lesbian wedding here."