Massachusetts Gay Couple Sues Catholic Diocese Over Failed Housing Bid

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In May, Beret and Fairbanks viewed Oakhurst, which was publicly listed for sale on the website Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. They submitted a written offer for the property through LiSandra Rodriguez-Pagan, the real estate agent for the House of Affirmation, which accepted the offer, along with a $75,000 deposit, according to the lawsuit. Beret and Fairbanks also paid $2,620 for a property inspection. The inspection report revealed that Oakhurst needed costly repairs, and upon learning this, Fairbanks and Beret submitted a revised offer for the property.

"From the evidence that we have, it appears that there was some conversation between the broker and church officials" in which the men's sexual orientation and relationship was disclosed to senior members of the Diocese of Worcester, Carvajal, Beret and Fairbanks' attorney, told ABCNews.com.

According to the court filing, real estate agent Rodriguez-Pagan, who was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, told the Diocese she believed Beret and Fairbanks were gay, and that they planned to host same-sex weddings at Oakhurst. Monsignor Thomas Sullivan, chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester, also a defendant, wrote in an email to Rodriguez-Pagan, included in the court filing, that "because of the possibility of gay marriages there, we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they're shaky anyway. Just tell them we will not accept their revised plan."

"I never talked about gay weddings," Beret told ABCNews.com. "Never told anybody that we were gay. That has never been a part of the discussion."

Beret and Fairbanks "are very experienced businessmen," said Carvajal, their attorney. "They were going to use the property as an inn and one of the components of that is to host weddings, wedding receptions. As businessmen, they were open to any type of wedding or anniversary."

The Diocese returned the $75,000 deposit to Fairbanks and Beret in June, informing the men that it would not proceed with the property purchase. "To my understanding," said Beret, "the property has probably been sold."

The Diocese said it never backed out of an agreement. "There was never a purchase and sale agreement signed in this case," James Gavin Reardon Jr., the attorney for the Diocese of Worcester, told ABCNews.com, because "the buyers failed to get financing for the property."

Not so, claim the plaintiffs. "There were a number of banks interested in funding this project," said Beret, who, along with Fairbanks, made a final offer of $550,000 for four of the 26 acres initially offered, including the property that the mansion sits on.

"From a Diocese perspective," said Reardon, "this is not a case of discriminating against gay persons, and we look forward to demonstrating that in court."

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