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Judge rules in favor of lesbians suing Hawaii B&B

Lesbian Guests Lawsuit.jpg

In this Dec. 19, 2011 file photo, Taeko Bufford, left, and Diane Cervelli, right, pose near Waikiki beach in Honolulu.AP

A judge has ruled a Hawaii bed and breakfast violated the law when two women were denied a room because they're gay.

The Hawaii First Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of a Southern California couple who sued Aloha Bed & Breakfast for discrimination in 2011, Lambda Legal announced Monday. In 2007, Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford tried to book a room at the bed and breakfast because it's in Hawaii Kai, the same east Honolulu neighborhood where the friend they were visiting lived.

When Cervelli specified they would need one bed, the owner asked if they were lesbians. Cervelli responded truthfully and the owner said she was uncomfortable having lesbians in her house because of her religious views, the lawsuit said.

The bed and breakfast violated the state public accommodations law and is ordered to stop discriminating against same-sex couples, according to the ruling dated April 11. The public accommodations law prohibits establishments that provide lodging to transient guests from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, race, color, ancestry, religion, disability and sex --including gender identity or expression.

 Jim Hochberg, a Honolulu attorney representing the bed and breakfast's owner said Monday the ruling doesn't consider her First Amendment rights. "The public needs to be aware of this decision because it has far-reaching consequences," he said.

The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission joined the lawsuit.

"The court's decision is based on Hawaii's strong state civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination," commission Executive Director William Hoshijo said. "When visitors or residents are subjected to discrimination, they suffer the sting of indignity, humiliation and outrage, but we are all demeaned and our society diminished by unlawful discrimination."

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