An upstate New York couple filed last month an appeal with the state challenging a fine they incurred for refusing to allow a lesbian couple to hold a wedding ceremony on their farm they claimed was available for events.
Cynthia and Robert Gifford would rent out space on the farm for gatherings and ceremonies, such as weddings or receptions. In a 2012 phone conversation, Cynthia refused to allow Melisa Erwin and her then-fianceé Jennifer McCarthy from getting married on the Giffords’ property, known as Liberty Ridge Farm, in Schaghticoke, New York.
Unbeknownst to Cynthia, McCarthy was recording the phone call, and the young couple later filed a formal complaint with the state Division of Human Rights, according to the New York Post, accusing the Giffords and their business of discrimination.
Last August, an administrative law judge in The Bronx ruled that Liberty Ridge Farm was a “public accommodation’’ and that the Giffords – “devout Christians,” according to the Post – violated state discrimination laws.
The state of New York, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2011, ordered the Giffords to pay fines totaling $13,000 – $10,000 to the state and, to compensate for “mental anguish,” $1,500 each to Erwin and McCarthy, who eventually married elsewhere and now both go by the surname McCarthy.