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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 15, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 03
NY court upholds fines for anti-Gay wedding venue
Section One
ALL STORIES
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NY court upholds fines for anti-Gay wedding venue

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff writer

The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court ruled on January 14 that businesses may not discriminate against Gay and Lesbian couples, even if same-sex marriage conflicts with the religious beliefs of the business owners.

The ruling came in the case of Melisa and Jennifer McCarthy, who were married in 2013. The McCarthys chose Liberty Ridge Farm for their wedding venue, but the farm's owners, Cynthia and Robert Gifford, turned them away because they have religious objections to same-sex marriage.

The couple filed a civil rights complaint with the help of the New York Civil Liberties Union, a division of the ACLU.

In 2014, the New York State Division of Human Rights ruled that under New York's Human Rights Law, public businesses cannot discriminate on the basis of race, sexual orientation, national origin, or other protected classes. The Giffords were fined $13,000 for violating the McCarthys' civil rights.

The Giffords then appealed with the help of the so-called Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-Gay group founded in 1994 by Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ; Larry Burkett, founder of Crown Financial Ministries; James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries; Marlin Maddoux, President of International Christian Media; and Donald Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association.

The Appellate Division, however, upheld the Human Rights Division's decision that refusing to serve the McCarthys was discriminatory and illegal.

In its decision, the court noted that discrimination of the sort faced by the McCarthys hurts all New Yorkers, not just those who were directly harmed.

'Discriminatory denial of equal access to goods, services, and other advantages made available to the public not only 'deprives persons of their individual dignity,' but also 'denies society the benefits of wide participation in political, economic, and cultural life,' ' the court said.

In a similar case, florist Baronelle Stutzman was fined by a Washington state court for refusing to provide flowers for the wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. Stutzman was also unsuccessfully represented by Alliance Defending Freedom.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: A judge in Alabama is still fighting marriage equality.
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