Liberty Ridge Farm sits on nearly 100 pristine acres in upstate New York. The farm is also the home of Cynthia and Robert Gifford and their family, and the Giffords proudly describe themselves as farmers. A few times a year, the Giffords open their home and private property to the public for special events like pumpkin picking, or a corn maze. The Giffords also occasionally rent out part of the barn, containing their residence, for wedding celebrations.
When two women inquired about renting their home property for a same-sex wedding ceremony, the Giffords politely declined. The women were welcome on the property on public event days as anyone would be, but the Giffords had religious convictions about the definition of marriage. Those beliefs and the dignity of their religious faith would be violated by such a ceremony happening, literally, in their home.
Their lawyer, ADF allied attorney Jim Trainor, noted the Giffords have employed people who identify as homosexual, but objected to hosting and participating in a wedding ceremony under their roof.
But because they on occasion have allowed weddings to take place on their property, a New York State Administrative Law Judge found them guilty of discrimination, and fined the couple $13,000.
The fact the Giffords reside there is irrelevant, the judge ruled, without considering any of the constitutional arguments made by attorney Trainor.
In the rush to redefine marriage, the Giffords are just the latest in a long list of people who do not want to be forced to celebrate a wedding that violates their religious beliefs and conscience. Claims of discrimination are now routinely leveled at professions such as florists, photographers, bakers, and others.
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