Public businesses are being sued by people for refusing to accommodate them because they’re gay. In a recent case against Liberty Ridge Farm, which functions as a wedding venue, a lesbian couple sued the owners for refusing to allow them to have their wedding at their establishment.
In October 2012, Jennie Erwin and Melisa McCarthy decided Liberty Ridge Farm, a popular venue for weddings in upstate New York, would be the perfect place to hold their “rustic” wedding. It is hard to argue Liberty Ridge isn’t in the wedding business; it offers wedding planning services which it advertises on a wedding blog. But when the couple tried to secure their date, they were turned away by the owner.
Feeling the sting of that discrimination, the couple tried again, but this time they taped the phone call in which the owner tells them Liberty Ridge Farm does not host same-sex weddings. Then they filed a complaint with The New York State Division of Human Rights.
Arguments concerning the complaint were heard in November 2013. The Giffords argued Liberty Farms was their “private property”, noting the family lived on the premises. They claimed their “religious liberty” gave them the right to choose what events they host on their farm, and they insisted a wedding exception should be made to New York’s public accommodation statute because of their “specific religious belief regarding marriage”, which they envisioned as applicable only to wedding ceremonies and receptions and not the other services they offer on their property.
According to WNYT, Cynthia Gifford broke down on the witness stand. Weeping, she stated that it would be impossible for her to go against her core values. Both Cynthia and Robert testified that their definition of marriage is “between one man and one woman, under God.”
Translation: “It’s just so hard you know? Being a True Bigot in this country is becoming more and more difficult. I just want to be able to live my life free to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexuality like people once did against African-Americans. Is that so much to ask for?!”
The New York State Division of Human Rights disagreed. Last week they ruled that Liberty Ridge Farm counts as a public accommodation because it regularly collects fees for space, facilities, services, and meals, and therefor cannot be considered “distinctly private.” They also said the fact that the Giffords live on the property does not render it private, and that the state’s laws do not provide for a “wedding” exception. They then assessed a $13,000 fine to be paid to the McCarthys.
The tears of bigots give me strength.
On a slightly more serious note, it amuses me to no end that some theists feel they should get a pass on their bigotry because it’s part of their religious belief system (or so they claim). It doesn’t where your bigotry comes from, it’s still wrong.