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Local business discriminated, according to ruling

ALBANY - The New York State Division of Human Rights said that a local business discriminated against a same sex couple, when it didnt allow them to marry there.

The couple, Melisa and Jennifer McCarthy, tried to get married at Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke in 2012. The Farms owners, Cynthia and Robert Gifford, said they didnt allow same-sex ceremonies there because it was against their religious beliefs.

The Giffords attorney said Thursday that they are disappointed with the ruling. He said the owners feel their religious rights were not taken into account.

He said the recent Hobby Lobby decision states that businesses can exercise their religious beliefs.
Liberty Ridge has never discriminated against anyone. It does not have a policy of discrimination, said Attorney James Trainor. This is the Giffords home. So literally, this issue is very close to home. They conduct a large part of the weddings on the first floor of the home.

"All New Yorkers are entitled to their own religious beliefs, but businesses cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation any more than they can based on race or national origin," said NYCLU Staff Attorney Mariko Hirose, in a statement released by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Trainor said the couple and their business, will comply with the law as its been interpreted.  They may appeal the decision.

According to the decision, Liberty Ridge Farm faces $13,000 in fines.

The McCarthys werent available for an interview. They did release a quote within a statement released by the NYCLU. "No one should have the happiest time of their life marred by discrimination, said Jennifer McCarthy. We hope this decision will protect all New Yorkers from having to go through the hurt that we experienced."