Those Poor Persecuted Christian Wedding Vendors

The Worldnetdaily has yet another article about the terrible plight of Christian wedding vendors who think they should be allowed to discriminate against anyone they want (gay people, of course). The article is entitled “Christian vendors locked out of wedding business.” But they are actually the ones locking others out.

Working in the wedding business always has been stressful but now there are new worries for Christians who hold a traditional view of marriage – they could be sued, fined or even put out of business if they refuse to provide service to a same-sex couple.

Just in the last two years, dozens of cake makers, photographers, florists and even farmers have been forced by state governments to provide their services to same-sex couples wanting to get “married.”

If they refuse, they are told they must offer their services to both heterosexual and homosexual couples, or not offer them at all.

For Cynthia and Robert Gifford, owners of Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, New York, it was an easy decision. While their main business is growing vegetables, they occasionally host marriage ceremonies in the lower level of their house and outdoors in a field. When a lesbian couple called to book the farm for their “wedding,” Cynthia politely declined.

But the couple secretly recorded the phone conversation and then immediately filed a complaint with the New York Division of Human Rights. Liberty Ridge Farm was fined $13,000 and ordered to start serving same-sex clients or none at all.

“We have decided not to hold wedding ceremonies at all and we are not going to hold them on the farm until we are allowed to choose who we contract with,” Cynthia Gifford told WND. The couple, who are devout Christians, hired an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, which specializes in religious liberty cases. They are now appealing their case to state court.

But you haven’t been able to “choose who you contract with” for the last half a century. You have been forbidden under federal law to refuse to do business with an interracial couple or an interreligious couple. There are lots of Christian business owners who would have a problem working with those couples too. Has their religious liberty been violated as well? Why is it only when it comes to gay people that you scream about religious tyranny?

The principle here is pretty simple: If you open a business, you open it to the public, not just to those your religion approves of.

Follow Us!
POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • tbp1

    I wonder how many have turned away from “Christian” businesses because they are divorced and getting remarried? I’m betting none, even though Jesus himself directly forbade that. I know some churches won’t perform ceremonies for divorced people (as is their right), but I don’t see anyone demanding that remarriage after divorce be made illegal, or claiming that businesses should be able to deny goods or services to divorcees.

  • cptdoom

    They piss and moan about “religious freedom,” but just wait until an LGBT-owned business refuses them service. The lawsuit would be nearly instantaneous.

  • Chiroptera

    From the way the bigots carry on, you’d think these people are being forced to give away cakes for free or something.

    If they refuse, they are told they must offer their services to both heterosexual and homosexual couples, or not offer them at all.

    So they’re not actually being forced to do anything after all?

  • John Pieret

    Why is it only when it comes to gay people that you scream about religious tyranny?

    Because they are too ashamed to deny service to an interracial couple, an interreligious couple or, for that matter, a black couple, an Islamic couple, a Jewishish couple, etc., etc. because then everyone would know they are bigots. There is still a small (but closing) window where not everyone will think them bigots if they discriminate against gays.

  • Doubting Thomas

    A question always comes to mind when I hear of these cases. If I was gay and wanted to get married with all the trimmings provided by such businesses, and I knew for a fact that any of the said business were so bigoted that they would refuse my business, would it not be the case that I might get substandard service in the event that they were coerced into dealing with me? And if so, why would I chose to do business with such?

    I can see doing it to make a point as in this case where the contact was recorded. It would seem that the gay couple expected to be turned away.

    Not being gay, I still have an aversion to doing business with such bigoted asses. I can’t imagine that any level of product or service provided by them could not be found elsewhere.

  • cptdoom

    @Doubting Thomas – in most cases the couple in question did not get services from the bigoted businesses, and likely wouldn’t have wanted to get such services once they realized why they were being turned away. To ensure it didn’t happen to anyone else, they’ve filed formal reports or complaints, typically with the state. Had the businesses not felt the need to broadcast their bigotry, it is likely the couples in question would simply have gone to a different vendor. In this case I am willing to bet the couple was initially turned away and recorded a subsequent conversation so they could catch the owners in the act of discriminating.

  • Chiroptera

    Doubting Thomas, #5: If I was gay and wanted to get married with all the trimmings provided by such businesses, and I knew for a fact that any of the said business were so bigoted that they would refuse my business, would it not be the case that I might get substandard service in the event that they were coerced into dealing with me?

    Depending on the community, every business might decide to not sever gay people. Then you don’t just get substandard service, but no service whatsoever.

    If there were a business owner who wishes to serve gay people, they might still not choose to be the only one who does so for fear of the backlash of the bigoted public.

    If there is one business owner who will serve gay people, it may not be due to a sincere desire to support diversity and equality but just to make a quick buck — and will still give gay patrons lower quality service and products.

    Anti-discrimination laws do not exist for minorities who have plenty of choice in the businesses they patronize or the jobs they take; they exist to make sure everyone does have the same opportunities to conduct public business.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    …every business might decide to not sever gay people…

    I do look forward to this day.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    You know, it’s perfectly possible to disagree with anti-discrimination laws on principle, perhaps because you think that the rights of the business owner trump all else, or because you think the market will provide plenty of options even if there are some bigoted owners who restrict service. I think those views are wrong, but they’re not completely crazy. But in no case that I’ve seen are conservatives even trying to make those arguments. They’re instead claiming that their “religious freedom” is being violated, which is complete bullshit. It’s not a religious freedom issue at all; it’s either okay to discriminate for whatever reason, or it’s not okay. Your religion is irrelevant.

  • eric

    For Cynthia and Robert Gifford, owners of Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, New York, it was an easy decision. While their main business is growing vegetables, they occasionally host marriage ceremonies in the lower level of their house and outdoors in a field.

    So stop charging for it or offering it as part of your business. Do it for friends on an invite-only basis, and you’ll be fine.

    Heck, it might be reasonably easy to set up a religious not-for-profit that still charges a minimal fee and make it legal. Or create a private club, entry requirement fundamentalist Christians only, charge a club entry fee, and have a perk be you can use the farmhouse for your wedding.

    I am very pro-enforcement of the antidiscrimination laws on businesses. And as I’ve stated before, I think those laws will and should affect some pastors and churches, such as Las Vegas wedding chapels, because they are clearly business operations first and religious operations second (or nth). But if these folks really only do an occasional wedding and it’s not their main business, there are probably many ways they could continue to host the occasional wedding without running afoul of the law. You just can’t do it as a business.

  • badgersdaughter

    Area Man in #9 has a point. If the Giffords advertised themselves as the “Praise the Lord and Pass the Champagne Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Weddings” venue, the couple would have positively crossed the street to avoid doing business with them, and I don’t think this would ever have been news. It’s their attempt to pass themselves off as a mainstream, normal secular business, and their discriminatory policies off as legitimate, praiseworthy, above-reproach business practices, that backed themselves into this corner.

  • Chiroptera

    badgersdaughter, #11:

    I’ve said this before: if a business would just stick a jesus fish in the corner of their window, I know i’d avoid patronizing them.

  • dobby

    “Dozens of cake makers, photographers, florists and even farmers” I have only seen four or so actual cases. Are there more?

  • badgersdaughter

    Chiroptera #12: Years ago, I used to live in a city in which someone published a “Christian Business Yellow Pages” directory. I worked for a print shop where a stack of them was kept in a wire rack by the door. Despite being a Christian himself, the print shop owner (who didn’t advertise in it) used to grumble that the directory was a handy way to see which fraudsters and incompetents thought that they couldn’t get or keep business without waving the Cross about.

  • whheydt

    The real problem is…it’s not just businesses. Remember the town clerk in NY state refusing to marry same-sex couples right after SSM was legalized there? A magistrate in North Carolina is trying the same damn-fool stunt:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/10/14/can_magistrates_and_other_civil_servants_refuse_to_marry_gay_couples.html

  • John Pieret

    whheydt:

    Even in N.C., I doubt that the judicial ethics committee will look kindly on that. Unless he changes his mind, his title will, before too long, be “ex-Magistrate.”

  • sugarfrosted

    @3 “Do this or lose your livelihood” is a part of a decent definition of being forced. That being said, I still don’t think they’re in the right and the law should prevent them from discriminating, even if it is through a type of financial pressure or force as it were.

  • outraged

    Here in Minnesota, Muslim cab drivers didn’t want to transport women or alcohol because of their religion. Michael Medved was all over this “injustice” to the white Christians of the state so I called in and agreed with him that religion should be no barrier to doing commerce. Then I mentioned the CVS pharmacists that didn’t want to give out birth control and he hung up on me. I guess religious values at work only matter if you are a Christian. All others, not so much.

  • tbp1

    @#18: I’ve never understood Medved, or other Jews (especially observant ones like he claims to be) who spend so much time hanging out with the Christian conservative types. I certainly want people of different religions to get along, but I don’t comprehend getting into bed with people who literally think you are going to spend all eternity in unimaginable torture because you don’t share their religious beliefs, and who, moreover, think you deserve to (all the while calling you their friend and ally).

    As others have pointed out many times, the Fundamentalist/Evangelical movements have always had a strong anti-Semitic element, and their “support” for the state of Israel is only because they think that a unified Israel is a prerequisite to the Second Coming, when God will annihilate the Jewish people and send the vast majority of them to the Lake of Fire. As the cliche has it, with friends like these…

    A more cynical person than I might suspect he was more about the right-wing politics than the religion he professes to profess.

  • Michael Heath

    tbp1 writes:

    I’ve never understood Medved, or other Jews (especially observant ones like he claims to be) who spend so much time hanging out with the Christian conservative types. I certainly want people of different religions to get along, but I don’t comprehend getting into bed with people who literally think you are going to spend all eternity in unimaginable torture because you don’t share their religious beliefs, and who, moreover, think you deserve to (all the while calling you their friend and ally).

    I think there’s two reasons. Authoritarian thinking now dominates American conservatism. Secondly, while authoritarians in the U.S. are religious it’s my observation that their political motivations overwhelm the dogma they claim to follow.

    So from this perspective the motivations of authoritarians who are black American Christians or Jewish Americans have more in common with conservative Christians than they do with the liberal Christians or liberal Jews.