Gay couple sues over denial to buy retreat

Sept. 10, 2012 at 3:58 PM
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WORCESTER, Mass., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- A same-sex Massachusetts couple is claiming discrimination in the denial of the opportunity to buy property intended for weddings gay and straight, they say.

James Fairbanks and Alan Beret, married business partners from Sutton, Mass., say they were prepared to purchase Oakhurst, a 26-acre retreat in Northbridge, Mass., affiliated with the Catholic Diocese of Worcester, but were informed through an e-mail inadvertently forward by a church attorney from Monsignor Thomas Sullivan to their real estate broker that the transaction would not proceed "because of a potentiality of gay marriages" at the site if Fairbanks and Beret owned it, the Boston Globe reported Monday.

The couple intends to file suit in Worcester Superior Court alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in a real estate negotiation, a violation of state law, they said.

Sullivan told the newspaper he was unaware Fairbanks and Beret are gay, and that the sale of the property fell through because the men could not secure adequate funding to purchase the retreat, but added the Diocese typically does not sell property to developers who use it for "any number of things that reflect badly on the Church. These buildings are sacred to the memory of Catholics."

He said the church, as a matter of policy, will not sell former sites of celebrations of masses to people who intend to host same-sax weddings.

Beret said he and his partner never discussed same-sex weddings, only weddings.

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