Gifford v. McCarthy
Lambda Legal file a friend-of-the-court brief in a New York State court appeal on behalf ofa lesbian couple against Liberty Ridge Farm, LLC for its refusal to rent their event facilities to the couple for their wedding. Liberty Ridge Farm’s owners, Cynthia and Robert Gifford, cited their religious beliefs to justify the denial.
Lambda Legal’s brief supported the argument made by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the national ACLU for the couple, Melissa and Jennifer McCarthy, that the farm’s refusal to provide secular services to same-sex couples constituted unlawful discrimination regardless of its motivation. It discusses past cases in which courts rejected demands for religious exemptions from laws banning discrimination. The brief also surveys the history and continuing problem of antigay discrimination in New York, reinforcing why the state has a compelling interest in enforcing its nondiscrimination law, even if some people object on religious or free speech grounds.
In January 2016, New York’s intermediate appeals court (Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division – Third Department) ruled unanimously in favor of the McCarthys.