Thinking Out Loud

June 12, 2010

When a Man’s Home is not His Castle

When you run a business from your home, does the house then become a public place or is it still, at the end of the day, your home?

That’s the question a Human Rights Tribunal was to have been dealing with this week — the case was postponed to June 18 — in the Canadian province of British Columbia, as reported in the Vancouver Sun:

A British Columbia couple is in the “center of a firestorm” after refusing to provide accommodation to a gay couple have shut down their bed and breakfast despite doing major renovations on their home to facilitate the business.

“We’ve been harassed so bad we’re not running (the B&B),” said Lee Molnar, who lives with his wife Susan in the B.C. community of Grand Forks.

Their lawyer Ronald Smith said they are “devastated” but also feel they can’t continue to operate Grand Forks Riverbend Bed and Breakfast for fear they will be asked again “to violate their religious beliefs” by renting to a gay couple.

Smith is representing the couple in a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case scheduled to begin Wednesday, but it was postponed.

“They’re just a retired couple in Grand Forks who thought they would open their home to guests and here they are in the centre of a firestorm,” Smith said. “They’re a lovely couple. They don’t want to be thought of as discriminating, but they’re Christians who don’t feel they can violate their religious beliefs.”

The human-rights hearing, scheduled for two days this week in Kelowna, B.C., was postponed Wednesday after the lawyer for the gay couple — Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas — became ill. A new date has yet to be scheduled.

The hearing will rule on whether Eadie and Thomas, who tried to book a room at the B&B on June 18, 2009, were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation when they were turned away.

According to the complaint, Eadie called the B&B, spoke with Susan Molnar and reserved a room for the following two nights. He was told it would be cash only at $80 per night, which Eadie agreed to pay.

She took their names, Shaun and Brian, and the conversation ended.

About five to 10 minutes later, Lee Molnar called back and asked whether the pair were gay.

When Eadie said yes, Molnar replied “Then this is not going to work out,” according to the complaint filed in July 2009 by the couple.

In an earlier application to have the complaint dismissed, Lee Molnar stated “to allow a gay couple to share a bed in my Christian home would violate my Christian beliefs and would cause me and my wife great distress.”

…Read more: Here

What do you think?   Does the presence of the business render the entire house public, or do homeowners still maintain their rights to accept or reject guests for whatever reason?   To put it another way, do you throw away all personal rights and prerogatives to the use of your own residence when a portion of it has commercial application?

To read what others are saying, check out the over 300 comments on this story at CBC News.

Related item: Story/editorial at Lifesite News.

Related item:  The Edge in Boston likens the story to a similar British case.

(Mildly) Related item:  MacDonalds in France releases a gay-targetted television commercial.

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