Cynthia and Robert Gifford are caught in a same-sex nightmare. They’ve been forced to defend themselves against claims that they’re lesbian-hating homophobes.
“We respect and care for everyone!’’ Cynthia Gifford told me. “We had an openly gay man working for us this past season,’’ she said.
“We’ve had a woman who’s transitioning to be a man. We don’t discriminate against anyone.’’
But the government of the state of New York sees things differently. 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.
“This is scary,’’ Cynthia Gifford said. “It’s scary for all Americans.” Fifteen years ago, Cynthia, 54, and Robert Gifford, 55, opened to the public their farm in upstate Schaghticoke, near Albany, where they’ve lived for 25 years. They host an annual, family-friendly fall festival, which ends Tuesday, offering such countrified fare as a corn maze and pig-racing shows.
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?
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