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A New York farm that hosts wedding ceremonies for profit does not have a “religious freedom” right to discriminate against same-sex couples, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed yesterday with the New York Supreme Court’s appellate division, Americans United argues that the First Amendment does not permit the owners of Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, N.Y., to refuse service to gay couples. This brief is part of AU’s Protect Thy Neighbor project, an initiative that fights on behalf of victims of religion-based discrimination.Last year the farm was ordered to pay a $10K fine.
“If you run a for-profit business in New York, you have to be open to all comers,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “And if you think the First Amendment gives you the right to turn away LGBT persons, you may soon find yourself in legal trouble – just like the owners of Liberty Ridge Farm.” The case has been ongoing since 2012, when the farm refused to allow Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin to rent the property for their wedding ceremony. The farm’s owners cited their religious beliefs as justification for the refusal. In response, the rejected couple filed a complaint.