An Illinois couple who refused to host a gay civil union ceremony at their bed and breakfast five years ago was defiant on Tuesday after being ordered to pay a $80,000 fine and host a celebration for the pair.
Jim and Beth Waler, owners of the Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast in Paxton, rejected Mark and Todd Wathen’s rental inquiry in 2011, telling them they “believe homosexuality is wrong” and refusing their patronage.
The state had recently passed a law allowing civil unions, and the pair filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission, which argued their case before an administrative law judge. That judge rules against the Walders last September, and imposed the fine this month, which include $30,000 in damages and another $50,000 for legal fees.
“We may be out of step with an increasingly anti-Christian culture, but we are in compliance with God’s design…”, said Jim Walder
“Evidently religious freedom does not exist within the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act or the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” Jim Walder said in a statement provided to Fox News. “In our opinion, neither the state of Illinois nor the U.S. Supreme Court has the authority to tamper with the definition of marriage.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a brief in support of the gay couple, Jim Walder also told the pair “homosexuality is immoral and unnatural” and that “it’s not too late to change your behavior.”
In the last five years, gay marriage has become more widely accepted, culminating in last June’s U.S. Supreme Court Ruling that the constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.
“We may be out of step with an incredibly anti-christian culture , but we are in compliance with God’s design and that is what ultimately matters,” Walder said.
The Walders were also ordered in the recent court ruling to cease discrimination of same-sex couples, a violation under the Illinois Human Rights Act. Walder said he will not comply with the order and plans to appeal the fine.
Todd Wathen recently released a statement regarding the ruling.
“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,” Todd Wathen said in the statement.