ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New York appeals court on Thursday ruled against the owners of an upstate wedding venue, which was fined $13,000 for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law after refusing to host a lesbian wedding.
Robert and Cynthia Gifford of Liberty Ridge Farm north of Albany refused to host the 2013 wedding of Melisa and Jennie McCarthy, citing their religious beliefs. The women filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Division, which fined the farmers.
The Giffords went on to appeal. Last fall, Jim Trainor, the lawyer who represented the Giffords, argued that the farm — which does private weddings by contract — is not actually a business which is open to the public.
“No one should have to make that choice between earning a living and living their faith,” Trainor said this past November. “The ceremonies are in the Giffords’ backyard; it’s not open to the public.”
But the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court on Thursday said while the Giffords are free to express their religious beliefs, they must allow same-sex couples to marry on their premises if they allow opposite-sex couple to do so. The 5-0 ruling upholds a determination by the state’s Division of Human Rights.
The Giffords were represented in appellate court by an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, who said on the group’s web site an appeal would be considered.
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