N.Y. farm fined $13,000 for refusing to host lesbian couple’s wedding

N.Y. farm fined $13,000 for refusing to host lesbian couple’s wedding

ALBANY, N.Y. — A New York couple has been ordered to pay $13,000 in fines and restitution for refusing to host a same-sex couple’s wedding at their 100-acre upstate farm.

Liberty-Ridge-FarmJennifer and Melisa McCarthy filed the complaint in 2012 against the Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, N.Y., after being told their same-sex marriage would cause “a little bit of a problem” because the owners have a “specific religious belief regarding marriage,” according to court documents.

The McCarthy’s charged that Liberty Ridge Farm was a public accommodation and that owner Cynthia Gifford’s actions were unlawfully discriminatory under state law. Gifford and her husband operate the farm as a wedding venue and event facility.

Capital New York reports that an administrative law judge ruled Giffords’ rebuffed the couple after learning that Melisa McCarthy’s spouse-to-be was also a woman.

“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.

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

Article continues below

The Giffords’ attorney, James Trainor, said the couple is “evaluating” a possible appeal, and said he was surprised the ruling to did not incorporate the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision, in which justices said a closely-held company could deny some forms of contraception to its employees because they conflicted with the religious beliefs of its owners.

New York’s Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), enacted in 2003, “prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights.”

Legal handbook for LGBT Floridians available for free download

Previous article

Gay Games athletes heartened by Cleveland welcome

Next article