Christian business owners forced to pay large fine after refusing to host gay wedding ceremony

Earlier this summer, Glenn and TheBlaze reported on the plight of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado after its owner, Jack Phillips, refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple citing religious beliefs. In December 2013, Judge Robert N. Spencer ruled Phillips must “cease and desist from discriminating” against same-sex couples – despite his religious beliefs – or pay fines.

In June, Colorado State’s seven-member Civil Rights Commission reinforced the December ruling – deeming Phillip’s refusal to serve an act of discrimination and ordering the owner to halt the practice.

Now, a New York family is facing a similar issue. Cynthia and Robert Gifford, owners of Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, New York, have been fined $13,000 for refusing to allow a gay wedding ceremony to take place on their property in 2012. This refusal came one year after New York State legalized gay marriage.

According to Religion News Service, the Giffords told Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, a lesbian couple from Newark, New Jersey, they were welcome to hold their reception on the property but not the actual wedding ceremony – citing their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The Gifford’s attorney told RNS the couple employ gay staffers and have hosted events for homosexual couples in the past, but the marriage ceremony itself – which would either take place on the first floor of the Giffords residence at the farm or an adjacent property – was something they were not comfortable with.

“If you’re the gay couple, and they say, ‘Okay, you can have the reception. We just don’t want the wedding itself to be here,’ why would you force that issue,” Pat asked on radio this morning. “Why not go someplace that doesn’t have a problem?”

McCarthy and Erwin took their case the New York’s Division of Human Rights and emerged victorious. As TheBlaze reported, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled the business cannot be characterized as private because Liberty Ridge Farm is a public accommodation as it rents its space and regularly collects fees from the public.

As a result, the Giffords must pay a $10,000 fine and give an additional $1,500 each to McCarthy and Erwin.

“Come on. This is insane… Why can’t you just take your business elsewhere,” Pat asked. “It’s so ridiculous that we’ve turned into a society where you have to do things that go against your religious conviction. That’s wrong. That’s unconstitutional. You shouldn’t have to do that.”

Listen to today’s radio show below: