‘Gay Marriage Potential’ Means Church Won’t Sell to Couple


A couple who wanted to take a run-down Northbridge mansion off the hands of the Diocese of Worcester and turn into a banquet hall had their bid rejected, despite initially everything seemingly going well, because the Diocese didn’t like the “potentiality of gay marriages” being held on the property. While certainly unpleasant for the couple, this sudden about-turn may also have broken anti-discrimination laws.

As to how the couple came to find out about the reasons behind rejected bid, WBZ-TV reports:

Alain and his partner Jim put in an offer for $1 million for the Oakhurst Retreat and Conference Center and say the Diocese of Worcester accepted it.

But, according to Beret, as they were doing their due diligence and pursuing normal negotiations, the Diocese abruptly stopped the sale.

Beret didn’t know what happened, until he began scrolling through an email between the brokers.

He noticed a message at the bottom of the thread from Monsignor Thomas Sullivan to his realtor.

It said:

“I just went down the hall and discussed it with the bishop. Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there….we are not 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.”

The Diocese is officially denying this is the issue, telling local reporters that they had concerns about the couple’s finances, but unless the Diocese is willing to contend sales brokers invented the message shown above, it would appear that the black and white of the case is that the potential of their being a gay marriage at the Oakhurst Retreat was the deal breaker.

If in fact the Diocese did walk away from the deal because of the “potentiality of gay marriages,” a case could be made that the couple were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

For one, the couple says they never in fact revealed that they were in a same-sex relationship, but the Diocese at some point found out on its own and this appears to mark where things turned sour. This, coupled with the fact that same-sex marriages could have been held their regardless of the sexuality of the buyers, lends strength to a discrimination suit, the couple’s lawyer has said.

Reports the Telegram:

Their lawyer, Sergio Carvajal, said state law prohibits discriminating against buyers based on sexual orientation, and said the potential for gay marriages would exist regardless of the sexual orientation of the buyer.

“It’s outrageous in this day and age that the church would refuse to sell to someone because of their sexual orientation,” Carvajal said. “It’s reprehensible.”

The exchange of property appears to fall outside of religious exemptions because it is a state transaction and not an internal transaction that would allow for greater deference to religious morality. As such it would seem subject to Massachusetts’ broad anti-discrimination laws, but the threshold of proving a violation in this case would seem very high.

The couple is currently said to be considering available legal options.


Related Reading:

Just Married: Congratulations to Rep. Barney Frank!

Mass. Congressional Delegation (-1): It Gets Better!

Mass. AG Takes on Anti-Trans Lies


Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution license with thanks to lisbokt.

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Nancy Crouse
Nancy Crouse2 years ago

The neo-cons and their holier than thou attituds and archaic beliefs. You the Excited States of America had better wake up and see yourselves as others outside of your borders see you.
Otherwise, your country will fall. It is falling and failing because of the right wing philosophies set in motion with Reganomics and the Imperialism to control as much of the world as possible. The Roman Empire fell, the Napoleonic conquests fell, the Brisish Empire fell. You will be next. Mark my words. And it is done by the coroprations whom have been accomodated by your Presidents. You have yourselves to blame as you have voted yourselves into oblivion by the Republicans and their followers.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal3 years ago

Separation of church and state....where is the line?

Hank I.
Hank Isaac3 years ago

David K. makes an interesting point. Tax exempt status for a religious organization does not make the need for that tax revenue simply go away. The rest of us do indeed pick up the slack. The tax law(s) may not be written that way, but the reality is what it is, verbiage notwithstanding.

So it all begs the question: Should an organization which enjoys a government sanctioned tax break be able to operate outside the laws of that very same government? In my experience, religious organizations (as differentiated from the actual religions themselves) like to function in an "a la carte" fashion. As long as laws suit their needs, they'll obey them. And if not, they claim "special status" and simply ignore the law.

I suggest all LGBT form an actual religion. Imagine the consequences! :-D

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

thank you

David King
David King3 years ago

A tax break for churches forces all American taxpayers to support religion, even if they oppose some or all religious doctrines.

As Mark Twain argued: "no church property is taxed and so the infidel and the atheist and the man without religion are taxed to make up the deficit in the public income thus caused."

David King
David King3 years ago

The question I have for EVERYONE is:

If you impose YOUR religious beliefs on everyone else, then are you not you are removing everyone else's religious freedom by doing so???

If we want a Government that is a theocracy then we have to be prepared when a religion that we disagree with gets into power and starts forcing those beliefs on us instead of our own!

Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it!!!

David King
David King3 years ago

That is a great point Kili W..

Tax breaks for the churches actually require non-religous people to participate through them being taxed themselves.

When we subsidies ANYTHING through tax breaks or direct funding, then we are placing those interests above everyone else.

Tax exemptions for churches violate the separation of church and state required by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

By providing a financial benefit to religious institutions, government is supporting religion. Associate Justice of the US Supreme court, William O. Douglas, in his dissenting opinion in Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York, decided May 4, 1970, stated: "If believers are entitled to public financial support, so are nonbelievers. A believer and nonbeliever under the present law are treated differently because of the articles of their faith… I conclude that this tax exemption is unconstitutional."

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch3 years ago

What a bombshell E-mail.... I love the part at the end, "You find the language". Leaving it up the the broker to use an excuse that wouldn't be illegal!

John Sergent
John Sergent3 years ago

"Here's a question -- why is the church in the business of selling real estate in the first place? Are they getting tax-exempt status for this business?"---They're not exactly "in the business of selling real estate." At least, not in the sense you imply. It's not a matter of buying properties they think will rise in value to sell when they do, or buying decrepit buildings and fixing them up for resale; it's just that, as happens to anyone now and then to some degree, they own something they no longer need, and want to be rid of it. Calling that going into "the business of selling real estate" is like saying you were in the business of selling RV's because you once owned a motor home and put it up for sale because it was expensive to maintain and insure and you never had time off to go anywhere.

Kili W.
Kili W.3 years ago

Here's a question -- why is the church in the business of selling real estate in the first place? Are they getting tax-exempt status for this business? Tax exemption should stop at the church or charities door and not extend into other ventures. If the couple's offer was already accepted, and then the church backed out because of their sexual orientation -- how did the church find out about that in the first place? Seems someone must have informed them in order to mess the deal up... another potential buyer? The whole thing stinks all the way around.