An interfaith couple has filed a religious discrimination complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights after they were denied wedding services at a venue in Galena.
The complaint, brought by Jonathan Webber and Alexandra Katzman against the Bernadine's Stillman Inn, was filed last month. Katzman is Jewish and Webber is Christian. They wanted a non-religious wedding ceremony.
In February 2015, the couple from Wisconsin paid the inn a deposit for a non-religious wedding service, to be held in May 2016. In November 2015, when they were finalizing their wedding plans, the couple was told that the inn would only allow a Christian service.
"I was stunned when this happened," Webber said in a statement. "The inn had cashed our deposit check and had the form with our wedding needs - including a non-religious ceremony - for months. It was shocking to be turned away."
Katzman added, "The entire experience was maddening and humiliating. After months of thinking that we'd found the perfect location for our wedding, we learned that the only way we could move forward was to have a service that might well offend my Jewish guests and my religious heritage."
Katzman and Webber wanted to get married at the inn, because they stayed there when they became engaged. They got married elsewhere this month.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is representing the couple in the case.
"This type of discrimination is exactly what the Illinois law was designed to prevent," said ACLU of Illinois senior staff attorney Rebecca Glenberg. "As a public business, open to all, the inn cannot impose religious requirements on my clients or others, especially not at their own wedding."