Christian couple vow not to host same-sex weddings in their Illinois B&B despite state fines, penalties

A signboard for Timber Creek Bed & Breakfast in Paxton, Illinois.(Timber Creek Bed & Breakfast)

A Christian couple in Illinois are standing pat on their decision not to host same-sex weddings despite having been fined by the Illinois Human Rights Commission for $80,000 over a discrimination case filed by a gay couple in 2011.

Jim and Beth Walder, owners of the Timber Creek Bed & Breakfast in Paxton, Illinois, said their policy will not change.

"We cannot host a same-sex wedding even though fines and penalties have been imposed by the Illinois Human Rights Commission. Our policy will not be changing," they said.

They said the government cannot rewrite the definition of marriage.

"In our opinion, neither the state of Illinois nor the U.S. Supreme Court has the authority to tamper with the definition of marriage. God alone created marriage and declared thousands of years ago that it was to be between a man and a woman. Not two men. Not two women," the couple stated.

On Tuesday, an administrative law judge ordered Timber Creek to pay $15,000 each to Todd and Mark Wathen for emotional distress, Reuters reported. The inn must also pay $50,000 in attorneys' fees and $1,218.35 in costs.

In 2011, the Wathens contacted the inn as a possible location for their civil union ceremony.

In his email, Jim Walder told the Wathens, "We will never host same-sex civil unions. We will never host same-sex weddings even if they become legal in Illinois. We believe homosexuality is wrong and unnatural based on what the Bible says about it. If this is discrimination, I guess we unfortunately discriminate," LifeSite News reported.

The Wathens told them that they would file a lawsuit but Walder replied, the Bible "trumps Illinois law, United States law and Global law should there ever be any. Please read John 3:16."

The same-sex couple filed a complaint with the human rights commission.

In their defence, the Walders said the inn was not a public facility and that they did not refuse service but only described how they operate.

The Wathens and the American Civil Liberties Union were pleased with the ruling.

"We hope that no other bed-and-breakfast and no other business in Illinois would be so bold as to discriminate," said ACLU spokesperson Ed Yohnka.

With the ruling, the Walders declared that religious freedom does not exist in Illinois.