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Marriage Equality

N.Y.: Farm Owners Turn Away Lesbian Wedding

N.Y.: Farm Owners Turn Away Lesbian Wedding


A lesbian couple who were told they could not hold their wedding at a farm near their home in Albany, N.Y., have filed a discrimination complaint with a state agency.

Melisa Erwin and Jennie McCarthy wanted to wed at the Liberty Ridge Farm next summer. They knew it when they first saw the space.

"It fit into our budget and was beautiful," Erwin told WNYT News.

But the owners said they would not host their wedding because Erwin and McCarthy are a same-sex couple. A spokesman for Robert and Cynthia Gifford, Liberty Ridge Farm's owners, said they have the right to turn the lesbian couple away because of their own religious beliefs.

"They still have children at home and they feel that their rights are being violated and they're being discriminated against because of their position on the issue of gay marriage," Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms said in a statement to the Associated Press.

However, Lambda Legal's Susan Sommer said that businesses that serve the public cannot discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation in New York State.

"If it opens its venue for weddings by the general public, it can't then shut its doors on a same-sex couple," she said.

Erwin and McCarthy filed a complaint with the state Division of Human Rights October 11.

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