Judge rules for lesbian couple in discrimination dispute

A five-year long legal battle is over for a lesbian couple from Ocean Grove who say they were discriminated against by a religious group.Harriet Bernstein

OCEAN GROVE - A five-year long legal battle is over for a lesbian couple from Ocean Grove who say they were discriminated against by a religious group.

Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster sued the Methodist-owned Camp Meeting Association after they were denied use of a boardwalk pavilion for their commitment ceremony. The group refused to allow them to use the facility because it said the ceremony violated its religious beliefs.

New Jersey's Division on Civil Rights ruled that the Camp Meeting Association did violate their rights. The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the couple, argued that because the group receives tax exemptions and advertises the pavilion for use without religious strings attached, their actions violated the law.

The Camp Meeting Association hasn't allowed weddings at the pavilion since the couple's lawsuit was filed five years ago.

Bernstein and Paster did not seek any monetary compensation. The couple says they simply want no other couples to face the same rejection.

Camp Meeting Association has 45 days to appeal the decision, but their attorney says no decision has been made to do so.

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