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N.Y. farm will no longer host weddings rather than allow same-sex ceremonies

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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SCHAGHTICOKE, N.Y. — The owners of an upstate New York farm who were ordered to pay $13,000 in fines and restitution for refusing to host a lesbian couple’s wedding say they will discontinue hosting all weddings rather than accommodate same-sex wedding ceremonies.

Liberty-Ridge-FarmCynthia and Robert Gifford, owners of the Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, N.Y., “have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their property (other than the ones already under contract),” said Alliance Defending Freedom attorney James Trainor, in a statement provided to TheBlaze.

A judge ruled last month that the Giffords violated New York’s 2003 Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) when it refused to host a wedding for Jennifer and Melisa McCarthy in 2012 because the owners have a “specific religious belief regarding marriage,” according to court documents.

“The policy to not allow same-sex marriage ceremonies on Liberty Ridge Farm is a denial of access to a place of public accommodation,” wrote Judge Migdalia Pares.

Pares fined Liberty Ridge Farm $10,000 for violating the state’s non-discrimination law, and ordered the Giffords to pay an additional $3,000 to the couple for “mental anguish each suffered as a result of respondents’ unlawfully discriminatory conduct.”

“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.

The Giffords said they will continue to host wedding receptions on their 100-acre upstate farm — and allow same-sex wedding receptions — but will cease allowing the ceremonies on their property.

Same-sex marriage became legal in New York state in July 2011.

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