Hawaii Supreme Court Allows Ruling Affirming LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Law to Stand

By Shane Stahl • July 11, 2018 • 12:27 pm

The Hawaii Supreme Court has denied a request to review the case of a bed & breakfast seeking to challenge the state’s existing LGBTQ nondiscrimination law, leaving in place a decision that favors LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.

In 2007, Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford were visiting a friend in Hawaii and sought accommodation at Aloha Bed and Breakfast. The establishment’s owner, Phyllis Young, said that her religious beliefs allowed her the right to refuse to rent a room to the couple, turning the women away and saying she felt that homosexual relationships were “detestable” and “defiled the land.”

The couple filed a complaint with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission that same year, and in 2011, the commission found that Young had discriminated against the couple. Following the commission’s finding, the couple filed suit with the help of our partners at Lambda Legal, and in 2013 were victorious.

Young appealed the decision, and earlier this year, the Hawaiian Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed the previous decision, that the bed & breakfast had violated the state’s public accommodations discrimination law. Just last month, the Oregon Supreme Court also refused to hear a similar case which involved a bakery discriminating against a lesbian couple and refusing them service.

This new pattern, in the wake of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case, indicates that courts see no reason to review positive decisions upholding existing nondiscrimination laws. To see more nondiscrimination litigation currently in the judiciary, visit our litigation tracker here.

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