The state of New York has ordered Cynthia and Robert Gifford to pay $13,000 for breaching the state’s human rights law and causing a lesbian couple “mental anguish” after they denied the women the ability to hold their wedding on Gifford property in upstate New York.
Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin (who now share the surname McCarthy) contacted the Giffords in 2012 about booking Liberty Ridge Farm for their wedding. The Giffords cited their religious beliefs as the reason they wouldn’t host the same-sex marriage. The Giffords said they feel that they were targeted by the couple, who secretly recorded the phone call.
The McCarthys then filed a formal complaint with New York’s Division of Human Rights. Before the Giffords knew it, their farm was swamped with media and an anti-Liberty Ridge Farm group was started online.
A judge slapped them with a $10,000 fine to be paid the state and ordered them to pay $3,000 to the couple for “mental anguish.”
Judge Migdalia Pares decreed the privately owned Gifford farm to be a “public accommodation” that doesn’t have the same religious freedom as a church, which has the legal right to refuse to take part in same-sex marriages.
The Giffords said they will no longer hold wedding ceremonies of any kind on their property. However, wedding receptions, including receptions for same-sex couples, will be welcome.