oakhurst_farmX400A gay couple from Massachusetts has sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester for allegedly refusing to sell them a Northbridge mansion because church officials were concerned they would host gay weddings at the site.

James Fairbanks and Alain Beret filed their discrimination suit Monday in Worcester Superior Court.

They allege in the suit that in the middle of negotiations to buy Oakhurst, a former retreat center affiliated with the diocese, church officials suddenly pulled out.

They say they inadvertently received an email from the chancellor of the diocese to the church’s broker saying the reason was because of the “potentiality of gay marriages” at the facility.

Beret said neither the topic of gay marriage nor his sexual orientation were raised during talks with the church.

“There was never, ever a discussion about gay marriage,” he said. “We never thought about it in those terms – it’s all marriage. When you have a business, whoever wants to come to your business is usually welcome.”

“How that came to the monsignor’s ear I’ll never know,” he added.

Beret said he was no longer interested in purchasing the property, even should he prevail in court.

“There was a time to reach out to us and say this was a misunderstanding,” he said. “That time has expired.”

Chancellor Thomas Sullivan says the church dropped out of negotiations because of concerns about Fairbanks’ and Beret’s ability to finance the purchase.

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