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Monday, June 5, 2017
Christian Farmer Barred from Michigan Market Because of Views on Gay Marriage
A Catholic apple grower in Michigan has been barred from a city farmers’ market over his views on same-sex marriage, after he refused to host a lesbian couple’s wedding at his orchard.
Stephen Tennes, the owner of Country Mill Farms, has sold his fruit and vegetables at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market for the past seven years. After city officials learned of his Christian belief thatmarriageis the union between one man and one woman, they invoked a non-discrimination policy to exclude him from being able to sell at the farmers’ market.
Tennes says he was barred from selling his produce after his business, Country Mill Farms, refused to host a lesbian couple’s wedding at its orchard in Charlotte, 22 miles outside East Lansing. Explaining his position on Facebook, Tennes cited his “Catholic belief that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman.”
In a statement, the city of East Lansing said the farmer’s decision not to host a same-sex wedding violated a “long-standing ordinance that protects sexual orientation as well as the Supreme Court’s ruling that grants the right for same-sex couples to be married.”
In point of fact, the city introduced amodificationto the city’s farmers market vendor agreement just this year requiring sellers to comply with East Lansing’s Human Relations Ordinance. Among other things, the ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
The city’s punitive action targets the farmer’s use of his own private property, 22 miles outside the city and well outside its jurisdiction. Mr. Tennes has declared that he does notdiscriminateagainst LGBT customers at the farmer’s market, and gladly sells his produce to all comers. READ MORE