Skip to content
Log In | Sign Up Connect

What’s your story?

Share and find customer experiences

Connect with the people behind them

Wacktrap is
feedback made social

Post Your Wack Now

Trending Content


Wildflower Inn Refuses Service to Lesbian Brides No Gay Reception Policy

| Share

by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

They'll serve you food, they'll employ you--but don't offer to pay Vermont's Wildflower Inn $35,000 for a wedding reception: Two brides from New York sue for violation of state anti-discrimination rules. The ACLU says the inn's guilty of discriminating against gays since 2005. It's the equivalent of a "no-gay-reception policy" from 'devout Catholic' owners.
All was good and fine for the wedding reception of two excited brides -- until Vermont's Wildflower Inn found out the couple was gay.
Ironically, the allegations of same-sex discrimination are occurring in a state that's helped pioneer gay rights. Vermont's allowed same-sex civil unions for more than a decade since 2000. And while many states and their citizens -- including those with larger gay populations like California and New York -- still battle over the right to marry, the state of Vermont has already legally allowed gay marriages since 2009. One of the nation's most major cities, New York, isn't entering that realm until July 24, 2011 when it will allow gay people to marry for the first time in its history.
Vermont tourism wants gays. The state markets specifically to gays and lesbians and the LGBT market. But one local inn, apparently, does not -- despite the fact the 'resort' sent back a proposal to one of the brides' families, in response to an inquiry from the Vermont Convention Bureau.
The Wildflower Inn seems to operate under the equivalent of a "no-gay-reception policy". The inn may as well put up a sign that says 'No Blacks'. The owners don't seem to understand the lack of difference. But they do seem to understand the concept, at least legally, is a 'no-no': Nowhere on the Wildflower Inn's website is there any reference to those the business refuses to serve.
If you're going to do it, at least have the guts to be up-front about it -- because if you're doing it 'under the table', you obviously know it's shady.
Someone didn't notify the Vermont Wildflower Inn's owners that -- kind of like public education and religion -- business practices and religion beliefs don't mix well: The Wildflower Inn owners Jim and Mary O' Reilly seem to have a problem with wedding receptions involving gays or lesbians, and claim their supposed deeply religious values block them from serving those gay business customers. Billing themselves as devout Catholics, the O' Reillys claim a personal belief in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman bars them from holding a wedding reception for two lesbians at their establishment.
The two that operate the Wildflower Inn say, in written statement: "We have never refused rooms or dining or employment to gays or lesbians."
How gracious of them to not refuse service. But--oh, wait, they kind of are. The Wildflower Inn also probably serves black people and doesn't require separate fountains between blacks and white. It's interesting the Wildflower Inn doesn't refuse work to gay or lesbian people. It seems to be all fine if they're the employer, but apparently they won't be paid by those damn sinners.
The inn's owners claim: "Many of our [ Wildflower Inn] guests have been same-sex couples." That may have been -- but possibly may not be any longer once word gets out about alleged discrimination.
While the inn claims, "We welcome and treat all people with respect and dignity," it seems to offer a bit of a contradiction: "We do not however feel that we [Wildflower Inn] can offer our personal services wholeheartedly to celebrate the marriage between same-sex couples because it goes against everything that we as Catholics believe in."
The gist seems to be 'we'll feed you, we'll employ you -- but we won't hold your wedding reception here because the concept of two gays or lesbians celebrating a union together disgusts us.'
The inn's owners never spoke to either of the two lesbian future brides. The owners did say the inn's wedding coordinator "did not handle the couple's request in the manner that it should have been."
Translation: 'We don't offer our services to gays, but whoever works for us is about to be terminated -- for being stupid enough to put discrimination in writing instead of simply making it verbal or virtually impossible to prosecute without evidence.'
So how did the lesbian couple from New York end up at the Wildflower Inn to begin with? That's the interesting part. The same state that advocates gay marriage seems to have some covert operations within its mix: The Wildflower Inn was referred to one of the brides' mothers through the Vermont Convention Bureau at the end of last year.
After the bride's mother had contacted the agency, the Vermont bureau had requested proposals -- and, among a dozen or so responses, the Wildflower Inn was one of them. That'd be the same Wildflower Inn that utilizes the slogan advertising: "Four Seasons for Everyone!". The response reportedly included a description that the inn would be "the perfect location" for the 120 or so guests.
The Wildflower Inn apparently didn't mean that "for everyone" statement.
After the mother of bride Ming Linsley contacted the Wildflower Inn's event director that the wedding would have two brides, she got a return e-mail. That e-mail was literally titled: "I have bad news." And the actual content got was shocking -- at least shockingly stupid.
"After our conversation, I checked with my Innkeepers and unfortunately due to their personal feelings, they do not host gay receptions at our facility. I am so sorry and want to stress it does not reflect my personal or professional views." That'd be the exact wording used in a Wildflower Inn employee's e-mail that now serves as evidence in the lawsuit filed in Caledonia Superior Court of St Johnsbury, Vermont.
The 31-year-old and 34-year-old women who are getting married in Vermont,  and had planned to hold the wedding reception at the Wildflower Inn, actually live in Brooklyn, New York. While the women obviously switched locales for their forthcoming wedding reception, they've filed a lawsuit over the principle of what they say is discrimination. The female couple believes refusing to serve gay and lesbian couples isn't just wrong, but also illegal. And Vermont law kind of seems to back that idea.
The two brides-to-be from New York aren't after money. They're after principle, and they want a change at the Vermont business. The women are suing Wildflower Inn -- for $1.
The Wildflower Inn's accused of violating the Vermont state Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act, an act meant to legally protect the public or consumers by barring public accommodations from denying services to people based on sexual orientation. The lawsuit filed in Caledonia Superior Court in Vermont specifically asks a judge to bar the Wildflower Inn from excluding gay people from its services.
Vermont allows complaints -- over discrimination based on sexual orientation -- to be filed with the state Human Rights Commission or battled out through a lawsuit filed in civil court. In this case, and based on the alleged history of the Wildflower Inn and its business practices concerning gay people, a verdict against the business could prompt positive change in future behavior and practices.
The ACLU claims Vermont's Wildflower Inn isn't just now refusing business or services to same-sex couples: There's allegations the inn has discriminated against gay couples, through blocking services or business with same-sex or gay couples, as far back as 2005. And ACLU lawyer Joshua Block says the situation isn't lack of proper communication: "It's [the alleged discrimination] not a one-time misunderstanding." Says Block, "This is a discrimination case," and "It would be no different if you owned a store and said we don't want to sell clothes to you or give you food or any other public accommodation."
The fact the Wildflower Inn lost roughly $35,000 in revenue related to the Linsley-Baker wedding may not bother the 'resort' -- but it may be bothered by more than the legal battle. If bad publicity prompts the Vermont Convention Bureau to cut ties, and cuts funds from future customers who choose to avoid the place that's alleged to openly discriminate, it could hurt business. The $1 dollar lawsuit seems to be working to create change now: The Wildflower Inn's cut out its wedding services -- to everyone.
The inn's website now reads: "The Wildflower Inn is no longer hosting weddings or special events." What a shame.
Just so everyone knows, the Wildflower Inn is still operating, "available for lodging for your special function."Just don't tell them if you're gay.


Wildflower Inn (VT)
2059 Darling Hill Road
Lyndonville, VT 05851
United States
Phone: (802) 626-8310
44° 34' 22.6416" N, 71° 58' 19.614" W
Vermont Convention Bureau
60 Main Street, Suite 100
Burlington, VT 05401
United States
Phone: (802) 860-0606
44° 28' 34.3992" N, 73° 13' 3.2052" W
| Share
Average: 5 (2 votes)