Back this summer, I had intended to write a post on the whole Chick-Fil-A uproar and Dan Cathy’s inflammatory, also-insulting-to-straight-married-allies remarks. But I got
lazy distracted and I never got around to it.
However, since I’ve decided that I’m going to start blogging (more) actively again, when the Liberty Ridge scandal surfaced, I saw my opportunity to talk about what I was going to talk about back in August. (Kristi Barlette’s stuff on this is the most comprehensive – find it here, here, and here.)
To give a quick recap of the events: a local lesbian couple got engaged at an apple orchard, and decided that they would love to themselves exchange vows at an orchard or a farm. A Google search indicated that Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke hosts wedding ceremonies and receptions on site, so the couple contacted them about booking the site for their wedding. All was going well until the couple indicated that they were lesbians, and they were promptly informed by the owners that they do not permit same-sex ceremonies on their property.
The couple is suing them under the NYS Human Rights Law, which states, “It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person, being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, or disability or marital status of any person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from or deny to such person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges thereof, including the extension of credit, or, directly or indirectly, to publish, circulate, issue, display, post or mail any written or printed communication, notice or advertisement, to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any such place shall be refused, withheld from or denied to any person on account of race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, or disability or marital status, or that the patronage or custom thereat of any person of or purporting to be of any particular race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex or marital status, or having a disability is unwelcome, objectionable or not acceptable, desired or solicited.”
In plain English, if you own a business and you deny service to anyone based on “race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, or disability or marital status”, you are in violation of the law. Religious organizations are exempt from this, for obvious reasons (though as you’ll note from some of the comments in Kristi’s blog, they failed to watch the video, which explains this point).
Because marriage equality is so new in New York State, this portion of the law has been untested in the courts. It will be interesting to see how this case plays out, as allowing a same-sex couple to exchange vows at your business is quite different than allowing a same-sex couple to come pick apples or go through the corn maze.
However, I’m not writing today to debate the legality of their choice to discriminate against this couple – whether or not the courts deem it legal, it is still discrimination – rather, I’m writing about principles. I had only been to Liberty Ridge once – during The Profussor’s 3rd annual Tour De Donut – and I didn’t go to schlep through the corn maze. However, a friend had told me about how fun it was, and it was something that was in the back of my mind. I will no longer consider spending any money there. The First Amendment may protect your right to be an outspoken bigot, but it does not protect you from public opinion. I agree with Kristi’s last post, that swearing and nastiness on their Facebook page is wrong and does nothing to further anyone’s cause, but if you are going to vocally discriminate against a marginalized group (and, in the process, indicate that you find that “lifestyle” to be “anti-family” in subsequent interviews), then I am no longer going to spend money at your establishment.
If I was a frequent customer at Liberty Ridge, I would say something. I would be respectful, but I would tell them that I was no longer going to patronize their establishment, and I would tell them why.
As you’ll see from the writeup, Liberty Ridge’s donuts were okay – not bad, not my favorite, and not nearly as good as Golden Harvest. Seeing as Golden Harvest is about the same distance (if not closer, actually), and Golden Harvest also has spirit tastings, I would prefer to go there anyway.
It’s not dissimilar to Chick-Fil-A – while I thought it was delicious the one time I ate there, it’s not a terrible inconvenience for me to stand by my principles and no longer patronize them, as they do not have a storefront anywhere nearby. It was more difficult for C, for example, when faced with buying a golf club he found to be really amazing, only to learn it was produced by Nike. He ultimately did not buy it, because he does not agree with their business practices and refuses to spend money on their products as a result. If I had kids who liked corn mazes, it would be a lot more difficult for me to stop patronizing Liberty Ridge.
I still would, mind you. I stand by my principles to support businesses who I believe are doing the right thing, and to not spend money at businesses whose practices with whom I disagree. However, I will be the first to admit that, in this case, it is a lot easier for me to stand by those principles.