Discrimination complaints by an Illinois gay couple turned down by two venues in their quest for a site for their civil union ceremony can proceed to a hearing, the Illinois Department of Human Rights has ruled.
The department announced this week that it found “substantial evidence” of discrimination against the couple, a finding that is not a final ruling but means the men can have their complaints heard by an arbitrator, a circuit court judge, or the Illinois Human Rights Commission, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Mark and Todd Wathen (pictured, from left) of Mattoon filed complaints against inns in two Illinois towns — Beall Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Alton, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, and TimberCreek Bed and Breakfast near Paxton, in east-central Illinois — that declined to host their civil union. They allege that the owners of the B&Bs specifically did not want to host a same-sex union ceremony, something the business operators deny. They ended up having the ceremony in their backyard June 6.
Todd Wathen said they would discuss their next steps with their attorney. “We felt we were right in doing what we did,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “We are pleased by the fact that someone agrees with us.”
The Illinois civil union law went into effect June 1.