A Jerusalem District Court has rejected the appeal of the Messianic village of Yad Hashmonah and has ordered it to pay compensation to the tune of USD $15,000 to two lesbians for refusing to allow a wedding reception on its premises.
Judge Moshe Hacohen upheld the previous ruling that since the Yad Hashmonah Messianic Guest House is a open to the public, the community cannot impose its religious faith on individuals or groups who want to use its facilities.
“There were no contradictions in this case,” said Hacohen. “Yad Hashmonah refused to allow the wedding reception because the women are lesbians. In their appeal, the village claims that they have authority to refuse the reception because of their faith. Most of the members of the village are Messianic Jews, who base their faith on elements of Judaism and Evangelical Christianity, a faith based on the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament as the word of God.”
In its appeal, Yad Hashmonah explained that “the lifestyle of these lesbians is in absolute contradiction to the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament. The laws regulating freedom of religion must protect us from allowing a ceremony in our backyard which is in complete contradiction to our faith.”
However, the Jerusalem Court determined that the refusal by Yad Hashmonah to allow the lesbian celebration is against the law, which states that “it is forbidden to act in a way that discriminates against persons for services rendered or entrance to public places.” The judge pointed out that the village’s Messianic meeting room is completely separate from the guest house, which is a secular tourist business.
Yad Hashmonah’s lawyers, Michael Decker and Sarah Weinberg, argued that it was the village’s legitimate right to refuse the lesbian celebration given its members’ beliefs in the Bible and their faith, which prohibits same-sex marriages. The lawyers explained that the Messianic believers hold dearly the importance of traditional marriage between and a man and a woman.
The court agreed that the residents of Yad Hashmonah had every right to practice their faith. However, since they are running a regular secular business, they are required to adhere to the law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion or sexual preferences. If Yad Hashmonah wants to open its business to the general public, the judge ruled, then they must be willing to provide services even to persons or groups who are not to their liking or taste.
There are many guest houses and businesses in Israel that are owned and operated by Messianic or Christian organizations. The ruling comes as a warning to all faith-based establishments in Israel that they cannot refuse use of their facilities once they have opened them up to the public.
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