A New York State appeals court has upheld a fine of $13,000 against a couple who declined to host a same-sex union ceremony on their property.
Cynthia and Robert Gifford own Liberty Ridge Farm in rural Albany. They renovated an old historic barn on their property. The second and third floors of the barn are their living quarters.
The Giffords have made the first floor of their barn available for community events and celebrations, such as fall festivals, family reunions, and wedding receptions.
In September of 2012 Cynthia Gifford was contacted by a lesbian "couple" who wanted to hold their same-sex union ceremony and reception at Liberty Ridge Farm.
After discussing and praying about the issue, the Giffords informed the women that they could not host the ceremony, because it would violate their religious convictions. They could not live with the thought of an immoral ceremony being held not only on their property, but in their own home.
The lesbian "couple" filed a complaint with the New York Division of Human Rights, alleging that the Giffords had violated the state's public accommodations law. That law includes a prohibition of discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."
The Human Rights Division found the Giffords guilty of "sexual orientation" discrimination. They were fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $3,000 in damages to the lesbian "couple" for their "mental pain and suffering." They were also ordered to provide "sensitivity training" to their employees.
The Giffords appealed that decision in state court, and now the appellate court has upheld the judgement and the punitive fine against the Giffords. The court said the fine was justified because of "the emotional injuries" the lesbian women had experienced.
Caleb Dalton, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, castigated the ruling. "All Americans should be free to live and work according to their beliefs, especially in our own backyards."
"The government went after this family's freedom and their ability to make a living simply for adhering to their faith on their own property. This is unwarranted and unconstitutional intrusion on their property," Dalton added.
ADF attorney James Trainor says this is an egregious case of "compelled speech." "The Constitution prohibits the government from forcing anyone to help communicate messages that conflict with their core beliefs. The Giffords welcome all people to the farm, but not all messages or events."
This is only the latest instance of totalitarian government behavior against Christians that includes exceedingly harsh fines.
In the most notorious case, an Oregon couple who owned a bakery were fined $135,000 by state labor officials because they declined to bake and decorate a cake for a same-sex ceremony.
Once again this session the "gay rights" lobby is pushing for the passage of legislation in the Missouri General Assembly amending the state's anti-discrimination statutes. These bills would also add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Missouri public accommodations law.
We encourage you to contact your legislators in Jefferson City and urge them to oppose bills that would make criminals out of Christians who stand by their convictions.
You can contact your state representative by using this link:Missouri House
You can contact your state senator by clicking this link:Missouri Senate