A while back we reported that Catholic farmers Cynthia Gifford and her husband Robert, above, were fined $13,000 by New York State’s Division of Human Rights for refusing to host a gay wedding on their property.
The couple who own Liberty Ridge Farm, appealed the decision, but the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court last week upheld the penalty, which included $10,000 in fines and $3,000 in damages.
The decision, Cynthia Gifford claims, is “frightening” and should scare every American.
She told The Church Boys podcast on Friday that she is a Christian who simply wishes to live by biblical values.
A government that tells you what you can’t say is bad enough. A government that tells you what you must say and punishes you if you don’t is frightening.
This kind of power should scare all of us no matter where we stand on the issue.
Gifford also recounted on the podcast how the legal battle first began back in 2012.
In 2012, a woman called inquiring about using our farm for her wedding. It was a short phone call. It became clear to me that the event was going to be a same-sex wedding.
Noting that this was the first time that they had been asked to host a gay wedding ceremony, Gifford explained why she declined.
We welcome all people to the farm and gladly respect and serve all for a variety of events, but because wedding ceremonies are inherently religious, a sacred event, Robert, my husband, and I, as Christians, cannot coordinate the same-sex wedding ceremony. This would violate our faith and conscience.
Gifford told Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, a lesbian couple from Newark, New Jersey, that they were welcome to host their reception on the grounds, but not the ceremony, an arrangement that the couple were reportedly not interested in.
After the phone call ended, the Giffords soon learned that they were being sued by the couple. McCarthy and Erwin, angry over the rejection, had taken their grievances — and audio from their conversation with the farm owners that was reportedly secretly recorded — to New York’s Division of Human Rights, claiming that they were discriminated against as a result of their sexual orientation.
A judge agreed and the farm owners were fined $10,000 plus an additional $3,000 in damages for violating anti-discrimination regulations under New York’s Human Rights Law; the state legalised gay marriage in 2011.
In the end, Gifford said that she and her husband found themselves in an extremely difficult situation.
We had the ultimatum of: ‘Host all weddings and go against our beliefs or don’t host any wedding ceremonies’. So we chose the latter.
We can’t be free to conduct our business within our beliefs. My story as an American farmer is the story of every American’s freedom to live and work consistently with their faith and without the fear of unjust government interference or punishment.
The “persecution” of the Giffords and folk of their ilk could well serve as a clarion call for people to join Islamic State.
That’s the view of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who, according to this report, has partially blamed an increased acceptance of homosexuality for the rise of Isis.
Hat tip: Chandlerclaytona (Gifford report) and AgentCormac