Family Farm Fined for Not Hosting Same-Sex Wedding
Cynthia Gifford did not know the phone conversation was being recorded.
Cynthia and and her husband Robert Gifford own a beautiful family farm in upstate New York. They often rent out the bottom floor of the barn for special occasions - wedding ceremonies, receptions, etc. In September 2012, she received a call from a young woman requesting to hold a wedding ceremony in their family barn. When Gifford realized the ceremony would be for a same-sex marriage - which violates her personal religious beliefs - she politely declined.
As Gifford said in this video below, "In no way would we turn anybody away from the farm. We just believe that a marriage is between a man and a woman, and we do not want to hold a marriage ceremony here on the family farm because the state tells us to do it."
What Gifford didn't know was that the inquirer was a law student and had taped the conversation. News crews showed up at the family farm, and the state of New York ordered the Gifford's to pay thousands of dollars in fines to both the couple and the state for discrimination. The state also ordered them to retrain their staff to host same-sex marriages.
Because the Giffords' refusal to compromise their deeply held religious beliefs resulted in such crushing, heavy fines, they have had to stop renting out their barn for any and all future wedding ceremonies - gay or straight - to avoid being sued for discrimination.
What do you think? Do you feel it is fair for business owners to be fined for their religious convictions and forced to change?