Bed-and-Breakfast Owners Forced To Disavow Their Religious Beliefs For Discriminating Against Same-Sex Marriage

On March 22, Jim Walder and his wife were ordered to pay $30,000 to a same-sex couple and $50,000 to their lawyers for refusing to allow a gay civil-union ceremony in 2011 at the TimberCreek Bed-and-Breakfast near Paxton, Illinois.

Walder denied the request by Todd and Mark Wathen, and lectured them via email about their "gay lifestyle," and said, "it's not too late to change your behavior." Michael R. Robinson, an administrative law judge, also ordered Walder to obey the Illinois Human Rights Act, which forbids this type of discrimination.

Todd said, "We are very happy that no other couple will have to experience what we experienced by being turned away and belittled and criticized for who we are. In addition, the monetary award represents a recognition by the judge that Mark and I suffered a real harm -- that we were embarrassed and humiliated."

During a November 2015 hearing, Walder said that he would not allow same-sex civil unions or weddings, regardless of state law. He also said, "The principle in the Bible for Christians is that Christians need to follow the law unless it contradicts [the Bible]."

Robinson also ordered the Walders to allow the Wathens to use the bed-and-breakfast within one year to celebrate their civil union. Walder issued this statement to The News-Gazette:

"To be absolutely clear, we cannot host a same-sex wedding even though fines and penalties have been imposed by the Illinois Human Rights Commission. Our policy will not be changing.

We are not looking for a fight, but when immoral laws are purposely passed (or deemed constitutional) that blatantly conflict with God’s Word and when the heavy hand of government tries to force us as Christians to embrace sinful behavior, we have a moral obligation to resist and stand for Biblical truth. 'It is better to obey God than men.' -- Acts 5:29."

Photo: Christian Headlines, Bile Rico

Walder, owner of the bed-and-breakfast, fined for his religious beliefs.

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