SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A bed and breakfast owner in Illinois says that the unsuccessful appeal of his discrimination ruling and fine was “fixed” and “corrupt” as he has learned that two of the three commissioners appointed to the case are homosexual activists.
“The fix was in from the get-go,” TimberCreek Bed and Breakfast owner Jim Walder opined to reporters. “The public probably assumes that these three commissioners were non-partisan, fair and neutral when the exact opposite was the case.”
As previously reported, Walder runs “an upscale Christian country bed and breakfast,” situated in the midst of a small farming community. The facility hosts church retreats, baby and bridal showers, business meetings and other events.
In 2011, Todd Wathen contacted TimberCreek via email to inquire if the bed and breakfast would be hosting civil union ceremonies after Illinois approved the unions that year via the “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act.” Jim Walder replied that the facility had no such plans, and allegedly advised Wathen that “homosexuality is immoral and unnatural,” and that “it’s not too late to change your behavior.”
Three days later, Wathen filed a discrimination complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU) also soon became involved and sought emotional damages for Wathen and his partner, Mark.
In March, Michael Robinson, an administrative law judge appointed by the Commission, ordered Walder to pay $30,000 in damages to the men ($15,000 each), as well as $50,000 in attorney’s fees and more than $1,200 in costs.
Robinson also mandated that Walder follow the Illinois Human Rights Act by not declining further events, and that he additionally host Wathen’s celebration at the bed and breakfast within one year. The two men held a ceremony in their yard in 2011 after being declined; they did not seek other facilities as alternatives.
However, Walder, who advised that he could not comply with the order because of his Christian faith, filed an appeal. Last month, Commissioners Duke Alden, Terry Cosgrove and Patricia Bakalis-Yadgir, who were assigned to the case, issued an order stating that they had “declined further review” of a “recommended order and decision,” allowing Robinson’s order to stand.
However, in 2014, Cosgrove had been inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, and himself had filed a discrimination case against a local bar. He has also lobbied for state laws about the matter.
Alden serves as the chairman of Howard Brown Health, a health and social services organization for homosexual and transgendered persons. He also was a part of a “Presidential Debate Viewing Party” for homosexuals in Chicago to “cheer on Hillary Clinton.”
“[A]ssigning two out of three commissioners who are either LGBT activists or openly gay to review our case is corrupt and indefensible,” Walder consequently told the Paxton Record. “[B]oth commissioners should have honorably recused themselves from the review.”
“This feels like blatant reverse discrimination against all business owners, Christian or otherwise, by the IHRC, which is supposed to be an unbiased, neutral party in resolving complaints,” he said. “It begs the question how this unelected commission’s rulings can ever be taken seriously again.”
Walder is considering his appeal options at this time. He says that homosexuals are welcome to visit the bed and breakfast, but he just cannot be a part of their ceremonies.
“None of this goes back to hate. None of this goes back to bigotry. None of this goes back to being homophobic. … All of this goes back to the Bible and how God sees homosexuality,” Walder said. “I don’t want to see someone not go to Heaven, because the opposite of that is unfathomable.”