Holiday Inn in Naperville
A lawsuit has been filed by a Christian organization against the Holiday Inn Select located in Naperville, Ill., for refusing to allow Americans for Truth About Homosexuality to hold an event there.
“Imagine the hue and cry that would have erupted had the Holiday Inn Select hotel … canceled a ‘gay’ organization’s scheduled banquet after its leader told the hotel that some Christians might protest the event,” the organization said in an announcement about the action.
The cancellation happened after Peter LaBarbera, the executive director of AFTAH, had told the hotel event planner that protesters were a possibility.
LaBarbera had not signed a formal contract with the Holiday Inn but had spoken with representatives and had established a verbal contract that allowed his group to rent the facilities for its scheduled event two years ago.
money was exchanged between the two parties, but according to LaBarbera he met with the organizers on two different occasions where details about the menu for the 100-person event were discussed.
Then six weeks before the event the Holiday Inn canceled the reservation, which AFTAH believes was done because of its religious affiliation and view on homosexuality.
According to LaBarbera, the hotel management cancelled the event because of “potential bad publicity.”
“It’s always easy to come up with excuses but the real truth is they didn’t like our message,” LaBarbera said. “If you allow this sort of hecklers’ veto, you’re sanctioning discrimination.”
The Naperville Holiday Inn Select is independently owned and operated, but the Georgia-based InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns the Holiday Inn brand, said it is concerned about discrimination claims.
“IHG is very concerned about any claim of discrimination at any hotel bearing the Holiday Inn name,” Sarah-Ann Soffer, media relations manager, said in a statement to the Naperville Daily Herald. “IHG condemns unlawful discrimination in all of its forms. Since this matter is the subject of pending litigation, we have no further comment at this time.”
AFTAH ended up holding its banquet a day earlier at another hotel.
The discrimination suit seeks an unspecified amount from the hotel for damages and attorneys fees.
“We simply want to send a message that it might be easier to discriminate against a small Christian group, but it’s no less acceptable,” said Jason R. Craddock, AFTAH’s attorney. “We don’t want corporate America to continue in its belief that it’s OK to discriminate against unpopular points of view.”
“Men walked around in full frontal nudity and even engaged in oral sex acts on the streets of San Francisco at a sadomasochistic street fair here — belying reports that police and city authorities would crack down on public nudity and lewdness,” LaBarbera’s report on the most recent event confirmed.