Jim and Mary O'Reilly say they were fined for failing to 'support' gay marriage
Like a lot of people, I sometimes think bigotry seems twice itself when it wears an Irish face.
After all we the Irish were discriminated against for centuries in religious, social, political and even philanthropic contexts, so we ought to have learned about the sting and the reach of it.
We really ought to know the harm and mischief it can do to our neighbors, too.
Not Jim and Mary O'Reilly from Vermont's Wildflower Inn, apparently. In August they settled a lawsuit taken by a gay couple from Brooklyn after their business refused to host their wedding reception as well the wedding reception of two other gay couples.
The O'Reillys agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the Vermont Human Rights Commission and put $20,000 in a charitable trust. They also agreed they would no longer hold weddings for heterosexual or homosexual couples at the inn.
But did they recognize that discriminating against the gay couple was wrong? Not exactly, if what they did next is any indication.
This week the Irish owners are campaigning on television against same-sex marriage in Maine, even though their previous discrimination cost them $30,000.
'A lesbian couple sued us for not supporting their gay wedding because of our Christian beliefs,' says Jim. 'We had to pay $30,000 and can no longer host any weddings at our inn.'
This is America, Jim and Mary, you are not running a Christian business, you are running a business. If you plan to provide the public with services and profit from the exchange there are good and longstanding laws to prevent you discriminating against who can and can not avail of them.
The people standing in your way are yourselves. In any case gay couples aren't trying to buy your approval, they are hoping to celebrate their union. It's not about you. Really it isn't. They didn't ask, as your TV ad erroneously claims, for you to 'support' their gay wedding, they simply wanted to pay you to host it at your venue, which is quite another thing.
Vermont was the first state to approve civil unions in July of 2000. Maybe the O'Reilly's should start looking for somewhere that's more accommodating to their own fundamentalist beliefs.