We told you yesterday about an Upstate couple that was informed by the owners of a farm-wedding venue that they couldn’t hold their wedding in their barn. The reason: the couple does not include a penis — they’re lesbians.
The couple — Melisa Erwin and Jenny McCarthy — has filed a discrimination claim against Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke (just north of Albany) and its owner, Robert Gifford, for his decision to not host same-sex weddings at his farm.
New York decided to recognize same-sex marriages more than a year ago. But there are no prior legal cases that set any sort of precedent about whether a private business can refuse to accommodate a couple based on sexual orientation.
In other words, this case could set the standard for aspects of New York’s discrimination laws.
Under New York’s Human Rights Laws, “places of accommodation” are barred from
discriminating against homosexuals. However, venues with religious affiliations or membership requirements — like the Knights of Columbus — can legally decline to host a wedding for a couple based on the couple’s sexual orientation.
Either way, Liberty Ridge is a private business. And the United States Constitution guarantees assholes the right to act like assholes.
Be that as it may, New York says “places of accommodation” do not have the right to act like assholes — and Liberty Ridge certainly seems like a place “of accommodation.”
This one’s gonna have to get sorted out by the courts.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 19, 2012