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Published On: Mon, Jan 18th, 2016

New York: Cynthia, Robert Gifford guilty, fined for refusing gay marriage on their farm

A New York court has upheld a state decision to fine a farm couple for refusing to host a lesbian wedding on their property. The couple must now pay $13,000 in fines and receive “re-education” classes.

The New York Division of Human Rights ruled in July 2014 that Cynthia and Robert Gifford were guilty of “sexual orientation discrimination” for refusing to allow Melisa and Jennifer McCarthy to use their “place of public accommodation” for their same-sex ceremony.

The Giffords said doing so would violate their conscience, but invited the two women to use their property for their reception site.

"Lesbian" wedding mock-cake at the Roma Gay Pride in 2008. Picture by Stefano Bolognini via wikimedia commons.

“Lesbian” wedding mock-cake at the Roma Gay Pride in 2008. Picture by Stefano Bolognini via wikimedia commons.

The state agency has ordered the Giffords to pay a fine of $10,000 plus $3,000 in damages and ordered them to implement re-education training classes.

Caleb Dalton, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom who represented the Giffords, said “the government went after both this couple’s freedom and their ability to make a living simply for adhering to their faith on their own property.”

“The court should have rejected this unwarranted and unconstitutional government intrusion, so we will consult with our client regarding appeal,” Dalton said.

Melisa McCarthy originally called Cynthia Gifford in 2012 to ask about the use of Gifford’s farm for her upcoming same-sex ceremony. Gifford explained that she and her husband don’t host same-sex ceremonies because of their Christian beliefs about marriage.

McCarthy and her partner later filed a complaint with the Division of Human Rights.

 

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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