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CHICAGO —A downstate couple seeking to find a convenient public facility to host their civil union ceremony were denied by not one, but two facilities based on their sexual orientation, according to new complaints filed with the State of Illinois Human Rights Commission. Todd and Mark Wathen of Mattoon were seeking a location for their civil union ceremony that would permit friends and family members from Kentucky and Missouri to attend the ceremony and spend the night.

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An internet search identified two possibilities — the Beall Mansion Bed and Breakfast of Alton and the Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast of Paxton — that offered their facilities for weddings. But when the Wathens contacted both facilities, they were rebuffed and, in one instance, subjected to a Biblical lecture on homosexuality.

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The Illinois Human Rights Actwhich includes protections based on sexual orientation, does not permit a business that is open to the public to deny services on a discriminatory basis. Illinois law requires that businesses offering their service to the public provide those services in a fair and equitable fashion. It hurt to face this blatant discrimination just as the State was making such progress in treating lesbian and gay couples fairly.

They knew that they wanted to have the ceremony in a small, intimate place rather than a large hotel facility and they wanted a location that was convenient for family members from Kentucky and Missouri to reach by car.

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After an extensive internet search, the Wathens fixed on two facilities that fit their criteria: the Beall Mansion in Alton and the Timber Creek in Paxton. On February 2nd, Todd ed the Beall Mansion and asked if they would be available for civil union ceremonies beginning in June. After receiving no response, Todd phoned the owner to follow up. Although they were troubled, the Wathens persevered.

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On February 15th, they reached out to the Timber Creek in Paxton seeking a date for their civil union ceremony. The Wathens stopped communicating with Timber Creek, but three days later the owners sent another with more Biblical quotes that condemned and criticized same sex relationships.

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The persistent message — even after the Wathens had stopped communicating — was unnecessary and hurtful to the couple. Mattoon couple challenge denial of services at two Illinois Bed and Breakfast facilities.

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November 2, Facebook Twitter Reddit Print. Leave this field blank. Documents pdf Wathen-Complaint-Beall-Todd.

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