New York farm owners fined for declining same-sex wedding


From the Albany Times Union:
The operators of a well-known agro-tourism farm in Schaghticoke have been fined $13,000 by the state for their refusal almost two years ago on religious grounds to host a same-sex wedding ceremony.

The Human Rights Commission concluded that Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who operate Liberty Ridge Farm, violated the rights of Jennifer and Melissa McCarthy who had the right to marriage under New York’s 2011 passage of same sex marriage.

Cynthia Gifford in 2012 told the couple she would have a problem allowing their wedding ceremony on the farm due to her Roman Catholic religious beliefs.


He noted that the Giffords had hosted same-sex events at Liberty Ridge but they had a problem with the religious part of the planned wedding event. “They just felt the religious ceremony violated their beliefs,” he said.


Liberty Ridge, which overlooks the Hoosic River, has a number of accommodations for weddings including a tent and a barn.

The New York ruling seems similar to the decisions made in similar cases in other states. If you rent your facility to the public for weddings, i.e. you are a public accommodation, then you can not discriminate against the classes protected by the state’s anti-discrimination law. Here is a copy of the actual ruling:

The business owner is considering an appeal. I know appeals in similar cases in other states are also pending. Have any of the appeals been successful?


I hope they will appeal. Religious liberty is teetering on the brink due to cases like this.




Agreed. I am afraid if we sit back, we’ll lose our right to stand by our beliefs on this issue in public life.


Since the article mentions that the Giffords had hosted same-sex events before without any religious objections, I think this fact diminishes their case, apart from the legal discrimination involved. Although they say they are uncomfortable with the religious aspect of the ceremony, I suppose this is not a Catholic wedding, or is it? If not, the Giffords are also violating the religious rights of the couple. Now if they have all these restrictions, why are they in the business of hosting public events on their farm to begin with? OTOH, except to make a point and sue, I doubt the couple is quite as crushed by the rejection as they say. Surely there are other venues in New York where they could have had the wedding ceremony.


What would happen if a wedding venue decided not to allow Catholics to hold a reception there? They could claim a religious exemption too. Maybe they think Catholics aren’t Christians. The bottom line is you protect everyone or no one.


Normally I would side with the business owners, but this is a unique case where I would side with those suing. Providing a venue in no way provides cooperation with the event, unlike actual physical volunteering or working. You are merely providing a space. Thus, public accommodation laws should apply, because the Catholic owners are not being asked to approve of, accept, or cooperate in any way with the planning of the event.


That’s your opinion, and it is not more valuable, insightful or carry more weight than theirs. In fact, it carries less weight, as they are the property owners, and their view is paramount. In their opinion, they weren’t comfortable with hosting the event, so they declined. Anyone who agrees with the fine and/or wishes to force others to do the same simply does NOT respect their religious, human, or property rights.


It is not up to the govt to decide what violates ones religious beliefs.


No, it doesn’t diminish their case, at all. Their is no requirement that you must be perfectly consistent in your prior actions to use your rights now. Second, people can always change their beliefs and opinions. So their prior actions do not hurt their case.

Can’t be. There is no such thing as a same-sex marriage, so it cannot be a Catholic wedding.

No, they are NOT. NO ONE’S religious rights are being infringed or violated because they can’t use a facility that belongs to another person. Our culture has such a perverted and grotesque view of “rights” today. Your rights are not violated because someone won’t let you use their property, and your rights are not violated because someone won’t pay for something you want.

Doesn’t matter. They have (or should if we were a free country) the right to host public events on their own terms on their own property. If their terms are ridiculous or foolish, people won’t go.

Of COURSE there are other venues they could use. But that’s NOT the point. The point is to crush those who do not actively and willingly encourage and celebrate a particular sinful behavior.


Actually this happened to me in the early 80s I was denied an ad in the “Christian Yellow Pages” because I wasn’t a “Christian”. I got a good laugh out of it and found plenty of other marketers who were more than happy to have my business


I might buy this if they were consistent. The article says they’ve previously hosted same-sex marriages, so they’re not even consistent with that. But if they are upholding Catholic teachings on marriage are they also refusing couples entering into second marriages? Are they refusing couples where one or both parties are Catholic and are not marrying in the Church? Or are they refusing only one particular group of people who are not in accord with Catholic teachings?


Public accommodations on private property? :ehh:

What would people say if a court or human rights commission forced a GLBTQ group to lend their office to jihadists or neo-Nazis?

People should be able to refuse service for ANY reason and the free market should decide.

Progressives may celebrate now, but they may soon come to regret this.


Notice how this is an objection based on CATHOLIC values, not Muslim, Southern African-American or Jewish.

Gay “marriage” activists seem willing and eager to avoid conflicts with these groups.



Yeah, yeah, we know. We’re not “real” Christians. Just pagan statue worshippers who pray to Mary, right? Ugh…I can’t stand that tired, old line.

So there was no frothing at the mouth and a plan to get back at evil society by suing them and showing them that your imaginary Constitutional right to a phone listing was violated!

That’s a farrrr to rational rxn for the :cool: modern era!


The article said other same-sex events, not weddings.

And it doesn’t matter if they’ve been inconsistent. Does your right to freedom of speech become null and void if you haven’t defended it consistently all your life?


So sad.

Once again, secularism and godless political correctness has triumphed.

Will be praying for these people.

They stood for God’s truth and their convictions.

Bless them.


When doesn’t hypocrisy make an argument look bad, if that’s indeed the case.

Thing is though people should be able to decide who they do and do not do business with.

I would think the left of all persons would appreciate putting principle over profit, but I guess not.

It isn’t interesting how they haven’t tried this on a Jewish business yet?


What this legal precedent supports.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit