And It Begins…Catholic Parish Sued For Refusing To Host LGBT Event 

And It Begins…Catholic Parish Sued For Refusing To Host LGBT Event 


A Portland business that claims its reputation nosedived after it turned away an LGBTQ customer based on orders from Holy Rosary Church Oregon, filed a $2.3 million lawsuit this week against the church.

In February 2015, Ambridge Event Center, owned by Holy Rosary Parish, had to turn down an LGBT group’s request to host an event. The contract between Ambridge and Holy Rosary barred hosting groups that openly oppose Church teaching.

Ambridge Event Center rented out a large space at 1333 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. to the public for conventions, weddings and other parties, according to the lawsuit. The business leased the space from the building’s owner, Holy Rosary Church, and was under “strict orders” laid out in a “morals clause” to turn away business from the gay and lesbian community, the suit states.

A few days later, after widespread backlash from the gay community, Ambridge — without the knowledge of Holy Rosary Parish — issued an apology and offered to host the LGBT event for free. Ambridge made further reparation in November 2015 by hiring an openly gay man.

Holy Rosary then fired the newly hired gay man and also fired Holladay Investors, the for-profit company running Ambridge. On May 22, Holladay Investors filed a lawsuit against Holy Rosary Church in Multnomah County Court. 

Holladay Investors claims the firing by Holy Rosary was “retaliation” and based upon a “discriminatory policy” against those who identify as LGBT.

The complaint filed on May 22 states, “The Church was explicit in prohibiting Ambridge from renting out the Event Center to members of or groups affiliated with the LGBTQ community.”

Ambridge’s complaint argues the event center lost business as a result of the anti-gay policy, saying:

“Even businesses and government entities that had previously scheduled events with Ambridge, who were not affiliated with the LGBTQ community but had equity-driven internal policies, refused to work with Ambridge after reading or hearing about the discriminatory policy involved in its employment relationship with the church.”

Ambridge is suing Holy Rosary for about $2.4 million. The majority of this — nearly $1.9 million — is cited as reparation for loss of business.

Holy Rosary is a Catholic, Dominican parish. It offers a plethora of opportunities throughout the week to participate in the sacraments and various devotions. The parish is also known for offering Mass in the Dominican Rite on Sundays, feast days and first Fridays.

Church Militant reached out to Holy Rosary’s staff. They said the parish is not in a position to comment about the lawsuit.

News of this lawsuit comes as Americans wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to announce its ruling on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The pending case involves a Christian baker who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012. The couple retaliated with a lawsuit. The nation’s highest court is deciding whether Jack Philips was violating gay civil rights or exercising his religious freedom.

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