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Upstate NY Farmers Ordered to Pay Hefty Fine for Refusing to Host Same-Sex Wedding on Their Property

BrideThey paid the $10,000. state civil penalty, in addition to paying $1,500 for mental anguish to the lesbian couple, Melisa and Jennie McCarthy, whose wedding they refused to host in 2013. Last year, the Giffords testified that according to their Christian beliefs and values, the sacrament of marriage is strictly between a man and a woman, and felt that ceremonies held on their private property should align with those beliefs.

They vehemently deny any claims that they are homophobic. “We respect and care for everyone,” Cynthia Gifford said. “We had an openly gay man working for us this past season. We’ve had a woman who’s transitioning to be a man. We don’t discriminate against anyone.”

As a result of the lawsuit, the Giffords have stopped booking ceremonies entirely, but still book wedding receptions and host wedding that have already been booked, according to their attorney, James Trainor. Though not hosting ceremonies will be detrimental to their business, the Giffords felt the ruling left them with two options: host all or none.

The Giffords’ life changed when Cynthia answered a short phone call in 2012 from Melisa Erwin, who was in search of a venue to hold her wedding. Gifford informed her that she would not book a same-sex wedding on their property, unaware of the fact that Erwin’s then-fianceé, Jennifer McCarthy, recorded the entire conversation.

The couple then filed a formal complaint with the state Division of Human Rights, who determined the farm to be a “public accommodation,” ruling that the Giffords violated state discrimination laws. The Giffords’ appeal, filed in state court, is scheduled to move quickly to the mid-level Appellate Division, with arguments likely to take place next year.

This is just one of many cases within the United States involving wedding planning services that were denied to gay couples. While divorce is prevalent in the United States, research indicates that marriages are more likely to last when both parties marry at an older age., have a higher education level, and earn more money, regardless of gender.