The owners of a farm in New York that advertises itself as a venue for weddings have been fined $13,000 by the state for refusing to rent their facilities to a lesbian couple for their wedding. Cue the cries of “TYRANNY!” and “you’re crushing our religious freedom!” from the Christian right.
The operators of a well-known agro-tourism farm in Schaghticoke have been fined $13,000 by the state for their refusal almost two years ago on religious grounds to host a same-sex wedding ceremony.
The Human Rights Commission concluded that Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who operate Liberty Ridge Farm, violated the rights of Jennifer and Melissa McCarthy who had the right to marriage under New York’s 2011 passage of same sex marriage.
Cynthia Gifford in 2012 told the couple she would have a problem allowing their wedding ceremony on the farm due to her Roman Catholic religious beliefs…
The couple, who met while in college at SUNY Oswego and had lived for a time in Albany, have since relocated to New Jersey.
“No one should have the happiest time of their life marred by discrimination,” McCarthy said in a release through the New York Civil Liberties Union. “We hope this decision will protect all New Yorkers from having to go through the hurt that we experienced.”
“All New Yorkers are entitled to their own religious beliefs, but businesses cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation anymore than they can based on race or national origin,” said NYCLU Staff Attorney Mariko Hirose, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer in the case.
The owners of the farm are considering an appeal, but there’s little chance they will win if they file one (a similar case has already gone to the Supreme Court but they refused to hear it, letting the appeals court ruling that upheld the anti-discrimination statute in place). They will now instantly become martyrs in the eyes of the anti-gay Christian right, of course. But if they had refused to allow a wedding of two Jews, or an inter-religious wedding, or an interracial wedding, almost no one would think that was acceptable. But gay is different to many people, which is exactly the problem. If you have a business that is open to the public, you don’t get to pick and choose which members of the public you approve of that get your services.