Thursday, the New York State Supreme Court affirmed a ruling by the New York State Division of Human Rights that an upstate wedding venue discriminated against a gay couple by refusing their wedding. The case involves Liberty Ridge Farm and its owners, Robert and Cynthia Gifford who turned away a same-sex wedding in 2012. Their lawyers, ADF, have sought to portray the Giffords as simple Christian farmers who rent out their home from time-to-time for special events. One look at the Liberty Farm website belies that notion.
ADF’s “case” (in part):
- The farm is not a public accommodation. ADF claimed that New York State public accommodations law is written so that only health care facilities are included.
- The Giffords did not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation on the premise that gay people frequently attend events at the farm. ADF tried to claim that refusing a same-sex marriage is not anti-gay discrimination.
- The Giffords are free to choose which events they would host claiming that they would turn down the Westboro Baptist Church (which I think would make for a very interesting case).
- That the law violates free speech rights claiming that this requires compelled speech. A mountain of case law says otherwise.
New York’s Supreme Court is not the state’s highest court. That would be the New York State Court of Appeals. Knowing ADF, we are on our way.