National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown would like to create a form of apartheid in the United States to exclude gay people from society. Today he is really, really upset that the State of New York enforces its non-discrimination ordinances. Brown calls it “Coercive Big Government Run Amok.” Yet the law is unambiguous; Public accommodations may not discriminate on the basis of race, religion … or sexual orientation.

I wrote about Liberty Ridge Farm on October 18 and October 24, 2012. These aren’t Christian farmers. The farm is a full service event operation. According to their website:

From Blue Jeans to Bow Ties, Liberty Ridge Farm offers indoor and
outdoor wedding venues with breathtaking views that dazzle and delight.
The Gifford Barn,a Dutch style barn hosts 2400 sq. ft. of reception
space decorated in an equestrian theme. The Event Tent is tailor-made to accommodate any size guest list …

Clearly this is a public accommodation. Yet, according to Mr. Brown:

“This is coercive big government run amok.”

That is the phrase The Daily Signal has used to describe a recent bit of news from New York state which represents only the latest act of bullying and intimidation by the same-sex marriage lobby against those of us who refuse to step in line with their radical ideology.

The Daily Signal, by the way, is a far right Heritage Foundation blog. Their headline is: “Government to Farmers: Host Same-Sex Wedding or Pay a $13,000 Fine.” I don’t know if anyone at Liberty Ridge Farm does any actual farming but they seem to do a fair amount of catering with the capacity to host several events simultaneously. I wonder if NOM and Heritage would be OK with “restricted” (no Jews allowed) facilities. There used to be many of those in upstate New York.

This is neither bullying nor intimidation. The lawfully elected legislature of the State of New York crafted a non-discrimination bill. It was signed into law by the lawfully elected governor. It has been in effect for at least a decade prior to the state’s recognition of same-sex marriages. Mr. Brown continues:

This time, the victims of this discriminatory and bigoted targeting are a couple who rent out their family farm for wedding receptions, but who respectfully declined renting to a lesbian couple because they could not in sound conscience participate in such an event.

It is astonishing, if not remarkable, that bigots call their victims bigoted. Respectful? How does one say “we don’t serve your kind here” — respectfully? It is the lesbian couple who are victims here, not the people who unlawfully discriminated. We’re terribly sorry but we don’t serve Jews here. What is the difference? It’s a gay marriage. You’d think that we were forcing the caterers to gay marry. It’s just catering and allowing the couple to use one of your venues.

If common sense and logic do not appeal to these people, its the law. If they don’t like it then they can either move or stop providing a public accommodation. All taxpayers (including gay people and their families) pay for the infrastructure necessary for these people to operate their business. Mr. Brown continues:

To the Orwellian New York Human Rights Commission, however, this kind of conscientious dissent is ungoodthink. The farm owners, Cynthia and Robert Gifford, are being fined $13,000.00 for this malfeasance: $10,000 in civil damages to the State of New York and $1,500 to each of the two women of the couple denied services, for the “mental anguish” they have supposedly suffered.

So now bigotry is framed as conscientious dissent. Scalia wrote the opinion is Employment Division v. Smith. This is settled law. There are no religious exemptions to otherwise valid state laws. This decision [PDF] was not made by the New York bureaucracy. The matter was before an administrative law judge. The Giffords were represented by counsel. Mr. Brown seems intrigued by the whole thing:

For instance, in the section called “Findings of Fact”, the document details the only recorded interaction between the Giffords and the female couple that wanted to rent the farm for their ‘wedding.’ It reads as follows (the numbers are part of the ordered list of “facts” found by the court):

Without quoting the whole thing, Ms. Giffords turns away the lesbian couple. There is no polite way to discriminate! One interaction is all that is required or likely to happen.

Brown is especially upset that the Giffords have to prominently hang a poster [PDF] at their place of business. They also have to provide their staff with diversity training. They broke the law. The judge is taking the necessary steps to ensure that they do not break the law again.

But you know what? If Brown is that adamant then he should cause NOM to finance an appeal. Maybe they’ll have better luck in a different court.  Meanwhile, how’s that Target boycott working out?

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.