Mass. gay couple sues church over nixed house sale
James Fairbanks, 59, and Alain Beret, 57, filed suit in Worcester Superior Court for loss of civil rights and dignity and for emotional distress.
The married couple from Sutton planned to buy Oakhurst, a former Catholic retreat center in Northbridge, and restore it as a place they could live and host a special events business.
But the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester ended negotiations in June, and the couple alleged they learned why in an email they inadvertently received in which diocesan Chancellor Thomas Sullivan cited concern “about the potentiality of gay marriages there.”
The couple’s attorney, Sergio Carvajal, said it’s obvious his clients were discriminated against because they’re gay.
“It is wrong and it is illegal,” he said.
But James G. Reardon Jr., an attorney for the diocese, said the diocese stopped negotiations over concerns about whether the buyers could finance the purchase. The email refers only to the possibility of gay weddings being held at the site, not the couple’s sexual orientation, which Reardon said never came up during negotiations.
“It wasn’t a case of discriminating against gay people. We didn’t even know they were gay,” Reardon said. [more]