Christian Couple Refuse Hosting Gay Wedding At Venue: Couple Loses Case, But Find Way Around It

A Christian couple refused to host a gay wedding on their farm and a judge let them know it was wrong. The Blaze reports that Cynthia and Robert Gifford refused to host a wedding for same-sex couple Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin at their venue, Liberty Ridge Farm.

Cynthia and Robert Gifford host public events at their farm and are against same-sex marriages because of their Christian faith. When McCarthy and Erwin contacted the Giffords about having their wedding at the farm, they were met with an unwelcome response. McCarthy and Erwin subsequently complained to New York’s Division of Human Rights that their sexual orientation was discriminated against.

After a judge reviewed the case, it was ruled that the husband and wife are to pay $13,000 in fines and “no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their property.” The Giffords argued that they have a private business and are legally allowed to refuse guests if they so choose. Judge Migdalia Pares, however, rejected their argument. Just because the husband and wife live at the home, it doesn’t mean that it’s a private business.

The decision was based on the fact that Liberty Ridge Farm offers accommodations and space rental to the public, so they must abide by New York anti-discrimination laws. Gay marriage in the state was made legal in 2011.

“Going forward, [Cynthia and Robert Gifford] have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their property (other than the ones already under contract),” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney James Trainor says.

Trainor adds:

“Since the order essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions, even though it will likely hurt their business in the short run.”

The Giffords have stopped hosting gay weddings, but offer same-sex receptions.

Christian News adds that Liberty Ridge Farm is located in Schaghticoke, a 50-acre facility that hosts a number several family events and attractions.

In addition to the fines, the Giffords must ” teach classes to their employees that impose the state’s view of marriage.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom say that the Giffords shouldn’t have to face the “threat of government punishment” for making decisions based on their religious beliefs and exercising their First Amendment rights.

The firm concludes:

“The government should not force anyone to participate in or celebrate an event that violates their faith and beliefs. However, that’s exactly what the state of New York has done to the Giffords. The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples.”

It’s unknown if the Christian couple will appeal the case. If they can’t refuse gay weddings, they can eliminate having all weddings at their venue and still host receptions.

[Image via Times Union]