In what appears to be a set-up for a legal fight, the New York Post reports that Cynthia and Robert Gifford own a farm called, Liberty Ridge Farm in upstate New York, and they often host weddings and receptions. They are Christians and refused to perform a lesbian wedding, because of their religious convictions. And now they are living through a nightmare:
“We respect and care for everyone!’’ Cynthia Gifford told me. “We had an openly gay man working for us this past season,’’ she said. “We’ve had a woman who’s transitioning to be a man. We don’t discriminate against anyone.’’
But the government of the state of New York sees things differently. The Giffords, who own the bucolic Liberty Ridge Farm in upstate New York, were ordered to pay a total of $13,000 — a $10,000 fine to the state and another $1,500 to each member of a lesbian couple to compensate them for “mental anguish.’’ All because the Giffords, devout Christians, refused to hold a same-sex wedding ceremony on the property on which they live, work and have raised a daughter, 17, and a son, 21.
“This is scary,’’ Cynthia Gifford said. “It’s scary for all Americans.” Fifteen years ago, Cynthia, 54, and Robert Gifford, 55, opened to the public their farm in upstate Schaghticoke, near Albany, where they’ve lived for 25 years. They host an annual, family-friendly fall festival, which ends Tuesday, offering such countrified fare as a corn maze and pig-racing shows.
Why was it a setup? Because who would think to record a phone conversation that was 2 minutes long about a possible wedding venue?:
Cynthia Gifford took a life-changing two- to three-minute phone call in 2012 from a woman she’d never met, Melisa Erwin, who was looking for a place to hold her wedding. A wedding — to another woman.
Gifford said she told her, politely, that she would not book a same-sex wedding ceremony at the farm.
She didn’t know it at the time, but the woman’s then-fianceé, Jennifer McCarthy, recorded the conversation. The pair then filed a formal complaint with the state Division of Human Rights.
America is a nation founded by patriots who were escaping religious oppression. In a free society, Christians should be able to hold firm to Biblical principles, without having their property rights trampled upon by a heavy-handed government.
Gay marriage may be legal in many states now, but that is much different than forcing someone to rent their properties for events they disagree with.
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