Supreme Court won't hear case of B&B owner who refused room to lesbian couple

Supreme Court won't hear case of B&B owner who refused room to lesbian couple
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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the case of a Hawaiian woman who was penalized by the state for refusing to let a lesbian couple stay in her bed and breakfast.

Phyllis Young refused to rent a bedroom to Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford in 2007. Young said under her house rules the only romantic partners that are allowed to share a bedroom are a married man and woman. She said renting to Cervelli and Bufford, of California, would have violated her sincerely held religious beliefs and referred the couple to a friend.


Cervelli and Bufford filed complaints with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, which ultimately found reasonable cause to believe that Young had violated the state’s public accommodations law by discriminating against the couple based on their sexual orientation.

The case went to trial, and the Hawaii Court of Appeals ultimately held that Young’s family home of 40 years was a place of public accommodation despite Young's argument that she fell under an exemption, known as Mrs. Murphy, that recognizes that those who rent up to four rooms in their own home have the discretion to select renters who are compatible with the owner’s lifestyle.

There were no notable dissents from the court's refusal to hear Young's case. It takes four justices to grant review.

The court last term heard a similar dispute in which a Colorado baker had refused to make a cake for a gay wedding. In that case, the court ruled narrowly for the baker, Jack Phillips. The justices said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission has showed a clear and impermissible hostility toward Phillips’s sincere religious beliefs when it issued sanctions against him for refusing to serve the couple.

Earlier this month, Colorado State Attorney Phil Weiser said the state and Phillips have agreed to end ongoing litigation in state and federal court.

In a press release, Weiser’s office said under the terms of the agreement the Colorado Civil Rights Commission will voluntarily dismiss the state administrative action against Phillips and his bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, and Phillips will voluntarily dismiss the federal court case he brought against the state in which he claimed he was still being persecuted for his religious beliefs.