You may remember the case of a Christian couple from upstate New York who refused to host a gay marriage on their farm, which they often rented out as a wedding venue. When a lesbian couple sought to book the farm for their wedding back in September 2012, they were politely refused by owner Cynthia Gifford. At the time, that appeared to be the end of it. But nothing could have been further from the truth. The lesbian couple sued, and the owners were forced into a mammoth legal battle that lasted three and a half years.
For that decision to decline a same-sex couple their wishes, Liberty Ridge Farm was forced to pay dearly. At the beginning of 2016, Judge Karen Peters ordered Liberty Ridge’s owners, Cynthia and Robert Gifford, to shell out $13,000 in fines.
“The Giffords are free to adhere to and profess their religious beliefs that same-sex couples should not marry, but they must permit same-sex couples to marry on the premises if they choose to allow opposite-sex couples to do so,” the judge wrote in her decision.
Now, over two years later, the couple have come up with a way around the dilemma of having their religious beliefs clash with their chosen vocation to host weddings – they donate a percentage of their profits to organizations that seek to advocate for the strengthening of traditional marriage in America.
Displayed at the bottom of each page in the “Weddings” section of its website is a clearly marked disclaimer that reads:
“At Liberty Ridge Farm, our deeply held religious belief is that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and the Farm is operated with the purpose of strengthening and promoting marriage. In furtherance of this purpose and to honor and promote our moral and religious beliefs, we donate a portion of our business proceeds to organizations that promote strong marriages such as the Family Research Council.”
The owners make it abundantly clear that they will not reject anyone from hosting a wedding on their premises. Clearly, however, the potential customers will have to be comfortable with the fact that a portion of their money will be donated to organizations that actively campaign for the promotion of Biblical marriage between a man and a woman.
“The patronage of all potential clients for all services offered is welcome regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability or marital status,” the website notes. “All couples legally permitted to marry in the state of New York are welcome to hold their wedding at Liberty Ridge Farm. We serve everyone equally.”
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