The ACLU of Illinois represents Alexandra Katzman and Jonathan Webber who were denied the ability to hold their wedding at Bernadine’s Stillman Inn in Galena because they wanted a nonreligious wedding ceremony.
In late November 2015, Alexandra and Jonathan met with the innkeeper, Dave Anderson, to work out the details of their wedding. After learning that the couple wanted a nonreligious ceremony, Anderson said, “I do not feel comfortable having anyone other than myself doing a ceremony in my chapel.” The couple asked what exactly he would say if he performed the ceremony, and Anderson read a long, very Christian service from a written script. When they continued to say that they could not have a Christian wedding ceremony, Anderson said that the wedding was not a “good fit” for the inn, and returned their deposit, leaving them humiliated and without a wedding venue.
Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, a public accommodation such as an inn may not deny services to any person on the basis of religion. In April 2016, we filed charges on Alexandra and Jonathan’s behalf with the Illinois Department of Human Rights on the basis of religious discrimination. The Department is currently investigating the charge.