New York State Fines Farms for Declining to Host Gay Weddings
Your own private property is no longer safe.
ALBANY—Two farmers in rural Rensselaer County must pay $13,000 in fines and restitution after they rebuffed a lesbian couple who inquired about getting married at their farm, a state agency ruled.
Jennifer McCarthy and her now-wife Melisa (nee Erwin) found Liberty Ridge Farm, which overlooks the Hudson River in Schaghticoke, several miles north of Troy, on the internet and hoped to rent it for their wedding ceremony and reception. Cynthia Gifford, who along with her husband offer a corn maze, market and events at the 100-acre farm, told Melisa McCarthy her same-sex marriage would cause “a little bit of a problem” because the Giffords have a “specific religious belief regarding marriage,” according to court papers.
McCarthy and her wife brought a complaint in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union, saying Liberty Ridge Farm was a public accommodation and the Giffords' actions were unlawfully discriminatory under state law.
While the McCarthys never entered into a rental contract for the facility, an administrative law judge ruled Gifford “implicitly rescinded the invitation” when she learned Melisa McCarthy's spouse-to-be was also a woman.
No contract is no protection. The mere inquiry is enough to cost thousands.
“The policy to not allow same-sex marriage ceremonies on Liberty Ridge Farm is a denial of access to a place of public accommodation,” Judge Migdalia Pares wrote. She said the Giffords should pay $3,000 to the women—$1,500 each—for “mental anguish each suffered as a result of respondents' unlawfully discriminatory conduct.” Citing “the goal of deterrence” as well as the Giffords' clear stance against same-sex weddings, Pares fined the Giffords an additional $10,000.
So, the judge is proactively punishing thoughtcrime.
My prediction that the current trajectory of this issue will end up with churches declining to support any weddings in their facilities is looking better and better.
The goal here, for some but by no means all same-sex marriage supporters, is to destroy the church or drive it underground. We're a long way from that, but not as far as most seem to think. They're making progress.
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