Christian farm owners told to pay $13,000 after refusing to host same-sex marriage ceremony
A Catholic couple who refused to host a same-sex marriage ceremony on their farm have been ordered to pay $13,000.
Cynthia and Robert Gifford live on Liberty Ridge Farm, around 20 miles north of Albany, but it is also open to the public as a venue for functions, including weddings.
In September 2012, the Catholic couple refused a request from Melissa Erwin and Jennifer McCarthy to host their wedding ceremony because to do so would conflict with their religious beliefs. But they did offer to host the lesbian couple's reception.
Erwin and McCarthy brought an "unlawful discrimination" suit against the Giffords claiming that their actions had caused mental anguish and cost months of their time in having to find an alternative venue.
A New York judge ruled last week that the Giffords had indeed violated the state's Human Rights Law and "unlawfully discriminated against the complainants".
Judge Migdalia Peres ordered that the Giffords pay a fine of $10,000 and $3,000 in damages to Erwin and McCarthy.
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In addition, the Giffords must prominently display a poster on their farm highlighting state anti-discrimination laws, and provide their staff with sensitivity training, LifeSiteNews reports.
The Giffords' attorney, Jim Trainor, expressed disappointment at the ruling, telling the website: "They consider the farm their home. They live there, they work there, they raise their kids there.
"We're disappointed that neither the Administrative Law Judge nor the Commissioner considered the Gifford's Constitutional (1st Amendment) rights, including the right not to be compelled to participate in a 'marriage' ceremony which violates their own religious beliefs."
He said they are still considering whether to take further legal action against the ruling.