The Giffords, who own the bucolic Liberty Ridge Farm in upstate New York, were ordered to pay a total of $13,000 — a $10,000 fine to the state and another $1,500 to each member of a lesbian couple to compensate them for “mental anguish.’’ All because the Giffords, devout Christians, refused to hold a same-sex wedding ceremony on the property on which they live, work and have raised a daughter, 17, and a son, 21.
... In summer, wedding ceremonies and receptions also are held on the farm. But once already-booked nuptials take place, the Giffords will no longer schedule new ceremonies. Only receptions — including same-sex ones — will go on. What happened?
Cynthia Gifford took a life-changing two- to three-minute phone call in 2012 from a woman she’d never met, Melisa Erwin, who was looking for a place to hold her wedding. A wedding — to another woman.
Gifford said she told her, politely, that she would not book a same-sex wedding ceremony at the farm.
She didn’t know it at the time, but the woman’s then-fianceé, Jennifer McCarthy, recorded the conversation. The pair then filed a formal complaint with the state Division of Human Rights. And this past August, an administrative law judge from The Bronx, Migdalia Pares, decreed that the farm was a “public accommodation’’ and ordered the penalties, after ruling that the Giffords had violated state law by discriminating against the two women.