James Fairbanks and Alain Beret, married business partners from Sutton [Massachusetts], had been searching for the perfect property for nearly two years when they discovered Oakhurst, an aging mansion on 26 beautiful acres in Northbridge. The former retreat center, which was affiliated with the Diocese of Worcester and had been on the market for some time, would be the ideal spot for their next venture: an inn that would host weddings and other big events.
When the Diocese of Worcester unexpectedly dropped out of negotiations with them in June, Fairbanks and Beret were shocked — and flummoxed. Then, they say, a church attorney inadvertently forwarded their broker an e-mail from Monsignor Thomas Sullivan, chancellor of the diocese, advising a church broker that he was no longer interested in selling to Fairbanks and Beret “because of a potentiality of gay marriages” there.
Beret, 59, and Fairbanks, 57, plan to file a lawsuit Monday morning in Worcester Superior Court against Sullivan, the bishop, the church’s real estate agent, and the nonprofit retreat center, the House of Affirmation, alleging they discriminated against Beret and Fairbanks on the basis of sexual orientation in the course of a real estate negotiation, violating state law.
“I have lived quietly in the mainstream for nearly 60 years, and I expected to continue that,” Beret said in an interview yesterday. “But I will not continue that at the expense of my dignity.”
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment