Bed and Breakfast owners fined for turning away gay couple
A husband and wife who ran a bed and breakfast in Grand Forks, British Columbia have been fined nearly $5,000 after refusing to let an overnight room to a same-sex couple, according to the Vancouver Sun. Les and Susan Molnar, former owners and operators of the Riverbed Bed and Breakfast cited “sincere religious beliefs” as their reason for not allowing the men to stay under their roof, and argued that as a private home, they could exclude whoever they saw fit. The court, however, has found that justification insufficient and ordered the Molnars to pay a penalty.
It was in July of 2009 that Shaun Eadie of Vancouver attempted to reserve a room for himself and his partner Brian Thomas at the Molnar’s bed and breakfast. Susan Molnar took the reservation down, but had misgivings.
Concerned that she had just rented a room to a same-sex couple, Molnar asked her husband to call Eadie back and ask if the men were gay. When Eadie answered in the affirmative, Les Molnar replied that the couple’s plan to stay in stay with him and his wife was “not going to work out.”
Eadie testified at the tribunal that he found the call extremely disturbing and upsetting.
The Molnars argued that as devout Christians who regularly attend church and host prayer meetings in their home, their faith rendered them unable to extend a night’s hospitality to the two men, and that their Constitutionally protected freedom of religion entitled them to do so under Canadian law. Les Molnar testified that it would have “shamed him and his Lord” to allow Eadie and Thomas to share one bed.
Tribunal member Enid Marion wrote the court’s verdict, and said that while the Molnars might have a Constitutional right to ban LGBT people from their private living area, the bed and breakfast operated as a hotel, and was therefore subject to equal protection laws.
“Having entered into the commercial sphere,” wrote Marion, “the Molnars, like other business people, were required to comply with the laws of the province…that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The Molnars shut down the bed and breakfast in the wake of the incident, saying that they have been subject to harassment as a result of the controversy and for fear of similar future incidents. The couple were ordered to pay Eadie and Thomas $4,500, “$1,500 for damages, $340 for travel expenses, and more than $400 for lost wages to attend the hearing in Kelowna.”
(image via Shutterstock)