ALBANY, N.Y. (TheBlaze/AP) — Two New York women who say they were turned away from a potential wedding site because they are lesbians have filed a discrimination complaint.
Advocates say the complaint filed with the state Division of Human Rights is among the first of its kind since New York legalized same-sex weddings last year.
Melisa Erwin and Jennie McCarthy, of Albany, say they filed the complaint Oct. 11 after Liberty Ridge Farm told them they could not use the site for their wedding next summer.
“When we asked why [the owners told us], ‘That’s what my husband and I decided. We’ve been married a long time and it’s great you’re getting married and all, but you can’t do it here,'” McCarthy told WNYT-TV.
The farm has had a growing presence of weddings on its premises. This year, alone, 15 nuptials were booked. But with gay marriage being so new in New York State — and with this being one of the first cases of alleged discrimination — there’s no telling how the legalities will play out.
Despite critique, owner Robert Gifford is adamant about not hosting gay marriages at Liberty Ridge.
“I think it’s our right to choose who we market to, like any business,” he said in an interview with WNYT last week. “We are a family business and we just feel we ought to stay down the family path.”
A spokesman for the owners of Liberty Ridge Farm says the couple acted in line with their values. Jason McGuire, of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, says the owners feel that their rights are being violated and that they will contest the complaint. While the law has an exemption for religious halls and membership organizations, the farm doesn’t fall under these categories.