U.S. Gay Couple Sues, Discrimination’s in the Market

Ileana Alvarez-Diaz

In Massachusetts, where the Pilgrims flourished, discrimination rears its ugly head yet again.

Married gay couple, James Fairbanks and Alain Beret sued a Roman Catholic diocese for refusing to sell them a mansion because church officials were concerned that the couple would “host gay weddings,” reports the Associated Press.

Fairbanks, 59, and Beret, 57, filed their suit in Worcester Superior Court declaring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violating state law.

The couple alleges that they were amidst negotiations to purchase Oakhurst, a former youth ministry and Catholic retreat center in Northbridge and restore it for living space, and to host special events.

But the negotiations suddenly ended in June, and the couple received only an e-mail depicting obscure reasons for the back out. Diocesan Chancellor Thomas Sullivan states that the Church ended negotiations due to concerns about the couple’s ability to pay.

However, the couple’s attorney, Sergio Carvajal, said that it is “obvious his clients were discriminated against because they’re gay.”

Oakhurst was initially listed at $1.45 million. Carvajal said the diocese “accepted the couple’s offer to buy it at $1 million.” Further inspection sighted repairs were needed, so the offer went to $550,000. The negotiations soon ended.

The e-mail Sullivan sent to his real estate agent is being used as evidence of the church’s discrimination. Sullivan wrote, “Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there, something you shared with us yesterday, we aren’t interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they’re shaky anyway. So just tell them that we will not accept their revised plan and the Diocese is making new plans for the property. You find the language.”

Carvajal insists that there was never a financing problem and firmly believes the diocese knew his clients were gay. Sullivan claims his e-mail was taken out of context.

The lawsuit is still underway.