Liberty Ridge Farm was fined $13,000 by the State of New York for refusing to host a gay wedding. The state’s division of human rights levied the fine at a lesbian couple was told their same-sex wedding could not be held on the family farm.
Cynthia and Robert Gifford routinely host public events at Liberty Ridge Farm and have reportedly never turned away a gay person or a same-sex couple. The problems arose when the New York farming couple felt helping with a gay wedding would be in opposition to their religious beliefs. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Jennie McCarthy and Melisa Erwin filed the discrimination complaint against Robert and Cynthia Gifford they were told holding the same-sex nuptials at the farm the following summer would not be possible. “When we asked why the owners told us, ‘That’s what my husband and I decided. We’ve been married a long time and it’s great you’re getting married and all, but you can’t do it here,” McCarthy said.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms representative, Jason McGuire, believes that the Liberty Ridge Farm owner’s rights were being violated and represented the family farmers during the same-sex marriage discrimination complaint proceedings.
Earlier this month the New York State Division of Human Rights ruled that by declining to host the gay wedding on the property the Gifford’s were in violation of the law. The commission ruling said, “The nature and circumstances of the Gifford’s violation of the Human Rights Law also warrants a penalty.”
The New York farmers live on the second and third floor of the barn and rent out the lower half for weddings. The Gifford’s also allow patrons to use the part of the second floor as a bridal suite. Unlike during annual fall festivals, pig races, corn maze tours, Easter egg hunts, and berry picking events, the Gifford’s are intricately involved with all aspects of weddings held on the property.
During Liberty Ridge Farms weddings the couple uses their farm trolley to transport guests, they decorate the barn, set up floral arrangements, handling catering arrangements, and other displays to be utilized on the land. The New York Human Rights Commission ruling noted that the only wedding service the Gifford’s do not provide is garnering the services of the official for the wedding ceremony.
The commission decided that since Liberty Ridge Farm is open to the public for specific events, it must be classified as a “public accommodation.” A label the Gifford’s do not agree with. Once the designation was determined, the farm then falls under a sexual orientation non-discrimination state ordinance.
Cynthia and Robert Gifford were ordered to pay a $1,500 mental anguish fine to each of the brides and $10,000 0in civil damages to the state. If the family farmers cannot come up with the cash in 60 days, a nine percent interest rate will apply. The couple must also embark on anti-discrimination “re-education classes” for their staff. Supporters of the Gifford’s feel that the government has no right to order the re-education of their religious beliefs.
What do you think about the Liberty Ridge Farm gay weddings decision?
[Images Via: Liberty Ridge Farm and The Daily Signal]