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Timber Creek owners file court appeal
by Matt Simonette
2017-01-04

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The co-owner of a downstate bed and breakfast, who was found to have discriminated against a gay couple wishing to have their civil-union ceremony performed there, is appealing that ruling through the courts and not a full Illinois Human Rights Commission ( IHRC ) panel, claiming that gay members of a previous panel could not deliver an impartial decision.

Timber Creek Bed and Breakfast co-owner Jim Walder maintains that since that previous panel had two gay members—Personal PAC President/CEO Terry Cosgrove and Aon executive ( and Howard Brown Health Board Chair ) Duke Alden—the panel was inherently biased and that an additional hearing before a full panel would be futile. So his attorney, Jason Craddock of Chicago, filed a petition for review with the Fourth District of the Appellate Court of Illinois on Dec. 22, according to the Ford County Record.

The smaller panel approved a March ruling against Timber Creek for refusing to let a gay couple hold a same-sex civil union there in 2011. That ruling, from administrative law judge Michael R. Robinson, carried with it $80,000 in fines and penalties against the establishment.

The episode formed the basis for one of many legal episodes across the U.S. that consider discrimination ordinances, public accommodations and so-called religious freedom ideas in the wake of civil unions and same-sex marriage.

"It's very troubling when people begin suggesting that someone cannot do their job because of their identity," said Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson. "…When you have the suggestion that being a member of the LGBTQ community should therefore disqualify you from adjudicating on that matter, it is not only ridiculous, it's incredibly dangerous and offensive to our notions about how justice works in this country."

Johnson added that he hoped that the latest development is a last-ditch effort from the Timber Creek owners.

"This case has gone through so many iterations and they are losing at every step," he said. "It's so clear that the actions that they took were discriminatory and in violation of Illinois law. When you can't win on every single time this comes up, you start to attack the decision-makers."

Ford County Record's article is at bit.ly/2in3aPd.


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