Monday, April 15, 2013

Around The Nation

Judge Rules Against Hawaii Kai Bed & Breakfast Which Discriminated Against Lesbian Couple
HONOLULU, HI --  Hawaii First Circuit Court Judge Karl K. Sakamoto ruled Monday that an Oahu bed and breakfast, the Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Hawaii Kai, had violated the state's public accommodations law when two women were denied a room because they're lesbian. In his decision issued Monday, Sakamoto ruled on that the business must stop discriminating based on sexual orientation.
The case began in 2007 after Diane Cervelli, 42, and Taeko Bufford, 28, tried to book a room at the bed and breakfast, and after Cervelli specified they would need one bed, the owner asked if they were lesbians to which Cervelli acknowledged truthfully that they were. According to the court documents in the case, the owner, Phyllis Young, then told the couple that she was uncomfortable having lesbians in her house because of her religious views.
Speaking with the Associated Press after the ruling, Cervelli said; 
“In my past experiences in Hawaii, people have been so friendly. It was just hurtful. It made me feel we weren’t good enough.”
The couple sued Young in 2011, represented by Lambda Legal, which claimed that Young violated Hawaii’s public accommodation law, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. In addition, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission joined the lawsuit in order to protect and enforce the state anti-discrimination law.
[The public accommodations law prohibits establishments that provide lodging to transient guests from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, race, color, ancestry, religion, disability and sex -including gender identity or expression.]
Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Peter Renn said;
“You can’t roll up the welcome mat when you see a lesbian or gay couple, just as you can’t refuse to do business with Jewish customers, African-American customers, or disabled customers.”
Young was being represented by the Alliance Defense Fund and Jim Hochberg, a Honolulu attorney, who said Monday the ruling doesn't consider her First Amendment rights.
"The public needs to be aware of this decision because it has far-reaching consequences," he said.
"The court's decision is based on Hawaii's strong state civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination," Hawaii Civil Rights Commission Executive Director William Hoshijo said.
"When visitors or residents are subjected to discrimination, they suffer the sting of indignity, humiliation and outrage, but we are all demeaned and our society diminished by unlawful discrimination."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.