Target: The Catholic Diocese of Worcester
Goal: Allow local gay couple to purchase old mansion in accordance with statewide nondiscrimination laws.
A Catholic Diocese in Massachusetts recently learned the dangers of forwarding emails without thinking the hard way. When a gay couple in Worcester offered to purchase a 44-bedroom mansion from the church, an email was sent to the couple by the Diocese’s real estate broker stating that they had found other plans for the property. But attached to the bottom of the email was a note to the real estate broker from a church representative stating the real reason the sale was denied: concern over the possibility of gay marriages being performed on the property, along with a suggestion that the broker misdirect the buyers by telling them that the Diocese had come up with new plans for the property.
The church’s response to the couple’s proposition to buy the property, in addition to being sloppy, may have been illegal. Massachusetts housing anti-discrimination law explicitly covers sexual orientation, meaning that to deny the couple the mansion on the grounds of fears regarding their orientation and the potential for gay marriages on the property is not permitted and cannot be excused by the fact that the seller is a church. Demand that the church apologize for their bigoted statements and allow the gay couple to proceed in purchasing the mansion if they so wish.
Dear Catholic Diocese of Worcester,
A recent incident in which your Diocese refused to sell an old mansion in Worcester to a gay couple wishing to purchase it has come to my attention. In an email from the Diocese’s real estate broker to the couple in question, it was suggested that the sale was not made because other plans for the property came to be; however, a note attached to the bottom of the email revealed the true reason to be a fear of gay marriages being performed on the property. Massachusetts housing law is clear on the matter of sexual orientation being an illegitimate reason to deny someone housing. As your status as a church does not stop this law from applying to you, your actions in refusing to sell the property were not only sloppy in that they failed to cover their tracks, but also likely illegal.
In the interest of doing what you can to avoid legal issues, I highly recommend that you take the time to apologize to the gay couple involved and offer them the chance to purchase the mansion if they still wish to do so, as well as reprimanding the individuals involved for his lies and illegal discrimination.
[Your Name Here]
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