New York: Lesbian couple banned from wedding venue

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A lesbian couple in New York have filed a discrimination complaint after they were turned away from a wedding venue.

Melisa Erwin and her fiancée Jennie McCarthy had hoped to tie the knot at Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, New York, next summer, but say the owners refused to host the ceremony because of their sexual orientation.

Earlier this month, Robert Gifford, who owns the farm along with his wife Cynthia, said:

“I think it’s our right to choose who we market to, like any business…we are a family business, and we just feel we ought to stay down the family path.”

According to the Associated Press, a spokesman for the owners of Liberty Ridge Farm say they acted in line with their values and that they intend to contest the complaint.

Under New York law, places which serve the public are banned from discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation; however faith groups can legally refuse to provide wedding ceremonies for gay couples.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind since New York legalised same-sex marriage in June 2011.

Melisa Erwin and Jennie McCarthy are no longer considering the farm as a wedding venue, but Ms McCarthy said: “We just want to know that the policy is being changed to fit the laws so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”