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Aloha Bed & Breakfast v. Cervelli

Case Seeking Religious Exemptions from LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Laws

Key Date: March 18, 2019
Status: Resolved
Legal Team: Lambda Legal
Type: Public Accommodations Discrimination

Aloha Bed & Breakfast v. Cervelli Case Overview:

Aloha Bed & Breakfast v. Cervelli concerns a business owner in Hawaii who denied service to a same-sex couple because of their sexual orientation, seeking a religious exemption to a longstanding non-discrimination law in Hawaii prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The couple is represented by Lambda Legal.

Latest in the Case:

On March 18, 2019, the United States Supreme Court denied a cert. petition in the case. The decision from the justices left the lower court ruling standing, a victory for the same-sex couple and LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections in Hawaii.

Case History:

Every lower court that has heard the case has affirmed that the bed and breakfast is in no way entitled to a religious exemption from the Hawaii nondiscrimination law – and that businesses open to the public must be open to all. Here’s an overview of key dates and rulings in Cervelli:

  • 2007: A same-sex couple denied service by Aloha Bed & Breakfast files a complaint with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission alleging that the business discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation, in violation of Hawaii law.
  • 2010: The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission found reasonable cause to believe that Aloha Bed & Breakfast discriminated against the same-sex couple, in violation of Hawaii’s LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law.
  • 2011: The same-sex couple brings its charges to Hawaii Civil Court. The Court heard oral argument in 2013 and in 2015 ruled in favor of the same-sex couple, declaring that the Aloha Bed & Breakfast violated Hawaii’s nondiscrimination law.
  • February 23, 2018: The Hawaiian Intermediate Court of Appeals, upholding the lower court’s decision and in agreement with a First Circuit Court’s ruling from 2013, found that the business broke Hawaii’s public accommodation law, which “requires equal access to facilities and services regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.”
  • July 11, 2018: The Hawaii Supreme Court declines to hear the case, leaving in place the ruling in favor of the plaintiff upholding Hawaiis nondiscrimination law.
  • October 9, 2018: Attorneys representing Aloha Bed & Breakfast file a petition for cert. to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case.
  • February 1, 2019: The cert. petition before the Supreme Court is fully briefed and awaiting a conference from the Justices.
  • March 18, 2019: The U.S. Supreme Court denies review of the case, leaving the lower court victory standing and the case resolved.

Last Updated May 1, 2019

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