Cervelli v. Aloha Bed & Breakfast
What's at stake
- The freedom to operate a business according to your deeply held beliefs without the fear of being punished by the government.
- The ability to own and operate a business without endorsing a view with which you disagree.
- The freedom to determine which overnight guests you allow to stay in your personal residence.
Using the name “Aloha Bed & Breakfast,” Phyllis rents 1-3 rooms in her personal home – the home that she has shared with her husband for 40 years; the home where they raised their children. Renting these rooms to guests helps pay necessary expenses and provides a primary source of retirement income for Phyllis. The house is not sectioned off—guests share living space with Phyllis’ family and are treated like family during their stay. As a result, Phyllis applies the same rules to guests that she would to any family member or guest staying under her roof. Phyllis’ Christian beliefs do not allow her to promote or facilitate a non-marital sexual relationship or a romantic relationship between two individuals of the same sex.
When Phyllis declined to rent a room to two women in a same-sex relationship, they filed a complaint against Phyllis with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission for sexual-orientation discrimination. Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies came to Phyllis’ defense. They explained to the Commission that because Phyllis only rented 1-3 rooms in her personal home she did not fall under the Hawaii public accommodations law that makes sexual-orientation discrimination unlawful. And the Constitution also protects Phyllis’ right not to promote behavior her faith teaches is immoral or to associate with people who are unwilling to respect her deeply held religious beliefs.
A state trial court judge declined to even consider these arguments and concluded that Phyllis engaged in sexual-orientation discrimination. The judge then ordered Phyllis to violate her Christian beliefs by allowing any same-sex couple who asks to share a room in her home. Alliance Defending Freedom obtained the right to bring a speedy appeal of that decision to Hawaii’s intermediate appellate court. That appeal is fully briefed and the appellate court could issue a decision at any time.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies have defended Phyllis Young and Aloha Bed & Breakfast from legal attacks seeking to force them to violate their faith.