A Long Beach lesbian couple won another legal victory Monday when the Hawai`i Supreme Court refused to review an appeals court ruling against a bed and breakfast owner who violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.
Phyllis Young, proprietor of The Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Honolulu’s Hawaii Kai area, refused to let the couple have a room on the basis of their sexual orientation. Young had said same-sex relationships “defile our land” and claimed a religious justification for discriminating against the lesbian couple.
In February, the Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court ruling.
“In letting the existing decision stand, Hawai‘i today joined a long line of states across the country that understand how pernicious and damaging a religious license to discriminate would be,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said in a statement.
“That is the just and proper understanding of the U.S. Constitution,” Renn said. “Religious freedom is protected, but it cannot to be used as a justification for discrimination. If you operate a business, you are open to all.”
Long Beach couple Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the Honolulu-based bed and breakfast for refusing to rent them a room with a single bed because they are a lesbian couple.
In a 2013 ruling, a Hawaii First Circuit Court judge ruled that Young violated the state public accommodations law and ordered the business to stop discriminating against same-sex couples. 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.