A couple who have rented their upstate New York farm out for weddings have decided to stop hosting marriage ceremonies altogether after being fined for refusing to allow a same-sex couple to marry at the venue.
Last month, a New York judge ruled that Cynthia and Robert Gifford, owners of Liberty Ridge Farm near Albany, violated state antidiscrimination law by refusing to accommodate the wedding of Newark, N.J., couple Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin in 2012. The Giffords offered to host the women’s reception, but not the ceremony. Administrative Law Judge Migdalia Peres said the 100-acre farm qualifies as a public accommodation because the Giffords regularly rent it out for events, and she ordered them to pay fines and restitution totaling $13,000.
Now, The Giffords have decided not to host any weddings on their property, aside from those already booked, attorney James Trainor of the right-wing legal group Alliance Defending Freedom told conservative website The Blaze last week.
“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,” Trainor said. They will, however, continue to rent out the farm for wedding receptions, for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
Trainor also found it objectionable that Peres ordered the Giffords to “teach classes to their employees that impose the state’s view of marriage.” New York has had marriage equality since 2011.
The Giffords are considering whether to appeal the judge’s decision.