The owners of an upstate New York wedding venue yesterday appeared in court to appeal the $13,000 fine imposed last year after they turned away a lesbian couple. The Associated Press reports:
The Giffords’ lawyer, James Trainor, said at the time of the initial ruling that he was surprised the judge did not incorporate the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision, in which justices said a closely-held company could deny some forms of contraception to its employees because they conflicted with the religious beliefs of its owners.
“We’re disappointed that neither the judge nor the commissioner even mentioned the Gifford’s First Amendment rights, including the right not to be compelled to participate in a religious ceremony which violates their own religious beliefs,” Trainor wrote in an email, reported Capital New York. He said the monetary penalty is a “significant burden” to the family that is “disproportionate to the single interaction between the parties – a telephone call of several minutes duration.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union represented the McCarthys in their civil rights complaint. The NYCLU says the Giffords didn’t have the right to discriminate against the couple. . “This ruling sets an important precedent protecting the rights of LGBT New Yorkers, and will help ensure that businesses understand New York law and treat all patrons with the dignity and respect they deserve,” according to Capital New York.
The decision on the appeal is expected at a “future date.”