Lesbians Launch Discrimination Complaint Against NY Farm Owners for Refusing to Host Their Gay Wedding
Two New York women who say they were turned away from a potential wedding site because they are lesbians have filed a discrimination complaint.
Advocates say the complaint filed with the state Division of Human Rights is among the first of its kind since New York legalized same-sex weddings last year.
Melisa Erwin and Jennie McCarthy, of Albany, say they filed the complaint Oct. 11 after Liberty Ridge Farm told them they could not use the site for their wedding next summer.
“When we asked why [the owners told us], ‘That’s what my husband and I decided. We’ve been married a long time and it’s great you’re getting married and all, but you can’t do it here,’” McCarthy told WNYT-TV.
The farm has had a growing presence of weddings on its premises. This year, alone, 15 nuptials were booked. But with gay marriage being so new in New York State — and with this being one of the first cases of alleged discrimination – there’s no telling how the legalities will play out.
Despite critique, owner Robert Gifford is adamant about not hosting gay marriages at Liberty Ridge. “I think it’s our right to choose who we market to, like any business,” he said in an interview with WNYT last week. ”We are a family business and we just feel we ought to stay down the family path.”
A spokesman for the owners of Liberty Ridge Farm says the couple acted in line with their values. Jason McGuire, of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, says the owners feel that their rights are being violated and that they will contest the complaint. While the law has an exemption for religious halls and membership organizations, the farm doesn’t fall under these categories.
The 1st Amendment gives them freedom to practice their religion
How the British bureaucracy works
Whenever I catch a spokesman on the radio whose salary comes out of the “public purse”, ie my wallet and yours, and who is defending a controversial decision to pay the new “Head of Talk” or “Head of BBC Trust” (or whatever it is they call the Director-General now) a high-Roman opulence of salary and perks, his reasoning is always the same.
Staggering salaries are a necessary evil at the BBC (or at Ofqual or Ofsted, or anywhere else in the public sector) because these humongously well-paid public servants would earn much, much more if they worked in the private sector. Sometimes, as the defender of the day goes on and on, defending the indefensible decision of the day, I catch myself thinking: “Ooh, I wish I worked in the private sector…”
Until I remember that I do; and always have, throughout my life, except for one short stint when I left a posh glossy for the Radio Times simply because the BBC literally doubled my salary. When I opened the letter that said “You got the job”, I fell on the floor laughing hysterically. It wasn’t a job – it was a six-month contract – but I was paid my erstwhile annual salary for the six months. And the next six! And the next! I only stayed a year and a half because I didn’t like all the low-level corruption and petty expenses-fiddling. (If you can’t add up it’s hard to fiddle expenses. Still, it makes you jolly cross when others blatantly do.)
Weirdly, Jeremy (public servant) Hunt’s attempt to explain his doctors’ (public servants) competency checks on the wireless yesterday sounded so creepily simplistic that it baffled me. “Every doctor in the country, and that includes foreign doctors who have come to practise in the UK, will have to undergo an annual appraisal,” he said, while I shouted “How much will that cost?” “and those appraisals will be reviewed every five years and then the GMC, which is the regulator of the medical profession, will decide whether there are concerns, and where there are concerns, there’s a process” – Me: “How much?” – “that doctors will go through. It’s really designed to pick up any problems before they happen.”
On and on he went, about giving doctors a chance to bring their skills up to speed (presumably by retraining them at public expense? Before making them redundant, also at public expense?): “And at the end of the day, if they’re not able to do that, the end of the road would be that they’re prevented from practising.” By the GMC? Isn’t that a publicly funded body? It is. And in 2010, its “staff costs” for 605 people were £34 million. Lord, are we going to have to quintuple the annual emoluments and packages?
What concerns me is that if there is going to be revalidation of doctors, surely there will be a need for a publicly funded regulatory body – let’s call it Ofdoc – to oversee the process of revalidation and check that the annual checks on competence have been competently carried out? And the regulatory body will need someone to head it, most likely a female, because there is always pressure to feminise this overwhelmingly male Government (more power to their blokey elbow, say I). Let’s call her Cynthia – in fact, let’s call her Dame Cynthia because if not now then soon such a high honour must be due – who will be expensively procured (these things take time, especially if you’re a public-sector headhunter), and bountifully paid.
I’d imagine there would be an unimaginably large (to most people) package of, say, £400,000 a year, a) because she will need to be “lured” with a fat wodge from her current job, and, b) because she could easily earn that much or scads more in the private sector. And let’s not forget that at every new layer of bureaucracy, somebody – and isn’t it most likely to be McKinsey? – will need to get their consultancy fees. I think we can agree that consultancy fees are always a given in the public sector.
Billy Graham: Vote for Biblical Values This Nov. 6
Is Billy Graham getting political? That’s what some are wondering with the release of a statement from the man who is arguably the best known evangelist in the world:
I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who support the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.
The statement is notable because the 93-year-old preacher has steered clear of politics during his long and illustrious career.
Graham is informally called the “Pastor to Presidents,” because he has met with every sitting president since Harry S. Truman. Many, including Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton sought his counsel, and he has enjoyed a close relationship with the Bush family.
Some even speculate that Graham has been a resource for both parties because he avoids, and maybe even transcends, politics. It’s undoubtedly true Graham has tried to stay out of the political arena.
For example, on his website, in response to a question about why he does not speak out more on political issues, Graham offered the following answer:
Over the years, I have tried to avoid getting involved in partisan politics -- and on those few occasions when I may have stepped over the line (at least in some people's view), I regretted it later. As an evangelist, my calling has been to preach the Gospel to as many people as possible, and I have always wanted to avoid putting up any unnecessary barriers…
Graham cultivated this philosophy over nearly 70 years of ministry, which makes his recent words even more startling.
So is Billy Graham getting political? The answer is “no.” Rather, he is getting biblical.
The Bible identified these as moral issues long before the political experiment we call “America” even came into existence. It is politics that has expanded into the realm of morality, and not vice-versa.
People who have followed Graham’s career should not be surprised by this. When an issue is about morality and doing what is right before God, Graham has not shied away.
For example, his Christian beliefs catapulted him into the civil rights movement in America. When he noticed his crusades were often segregated, Graham took steps to combat what he saw as clearly wrong. On one occasion, in 1953, he tore down ropes that organizers had used to segregate the audience, and increasingly spoke against the practice. In 1957, he invited the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to join him in the pulpit during a 16-week revival in New York City. And when King was arrested in Birmingham in 1963, Graham posted bail for him.
As he did back then, Graham is speaking on moral issues of the day—except this time around, the issues are the sanctity of life and the preservation of the true definition of marriage.
He is not poking his finger in anyone’s eye or calling names; that has never been his style. But Graham understands that these are moral issues, about which the Bible speaks clearly, and also sees how radical efforts to redefine marriage harm religious freedom. And he has undoubtedly seen the cases brought against people of faith for not embracing the new and surprisingly intolerant message of “tolerance.”
Traditional religious faith, with its notions that certain behaviors separate us from God (dare we say “sin”?), are now the wrong answer and no longer a view to be tolerated.
Graham’s religious beliefs, shared by many, have not moved. Instead, the radicalized politics of moral issues have become a battering ram against his beliefs.
So take heart; Billy Graham is not getting political. He is speaking with clarity on the profound moral issues at stake in this election, and the voice that has counseled presidents, world leaders, and so many millions, is now happily speaking to our nation again.
Australia: Must not be critical of whites who claim to be black
"There are people who get jobs, and are claiming benefits, who claim to be Aboriginal because they have a great-great-great-great grandmother or grandfather" ... Aboriginal boxer Anthony Mundine.
I'm with boxer Anthony "Choc" Mundine - in his most recent battle, at least. Last Thursday, during a media conference to publicise his forthcoming International Boxing Federation world middleweight contest with Tasmanian Daniel Geale, Mundine questioned his opponent's Aboriginal identity.
Mundine said he "thought they wiped all the Aborigines from Tasmania out" and added Geale had "a white wife and white kids". He later apologised for both statements. However, he did not resile from his comments about identity and declared yesterday: "There are people who get jobs, and are claiming benefits, who claim to be Aboriginal because they have a great-great-great-great grandmother or grandfather. That, I think, is wrong."
Mundine's recent comments about Aboriginality have been denounced by journalists and others, most notably by the Tasmanian indigenous activist Michael Mansell. He linked Mundine's attitude with that of the Ku Klux Klan and claimed his position resembled a "neo-Nazi type of thought". According to Mansell, Mundine is in need of re-education since his comments were "worse than what Andrew Bolt said" last year.
Mansell is an extremist, as is obvious from his statement that Mundine is not welcome in Tasmania until he issues a grovelling apology. Yet Mansell's position reflects a pattern in left-wing thought in recent years to call for the silencing of opponents from both the right-of-centre (like Bolt) or even the left-of-centre (like Mundine).
In his rush to censor Mundine, Mansell seems to have forgotten that, in the past, he himself has raised the issue of Aboriginal identity. On August 26, 2002, Four Corners ran a program titled "Blackfella, Whitefella" concerning disputes in Tasmania as to who was indigenous. Mansell told the reporter Quentin McDermott anyone who wanted "to participate in elections that are set up for Aboriginal people … should be able to satisfy the criteria that they are, in fact, Aborigines".
That was a decade ago. Now Mansell says calls for individuals to meet certain criteria before claiming to be indigenous is profoundly racist. What's changed? Well, it's possible that the likes of Mansell have taken comfort from Federal Court Judge Mordy Bromberg's decision in the 2011 case of Eatock v Bolt concerning what were called "fair-skinned Aboriginal people".
Bromberg found Bolt had made a number of factual errors in his comments on the "fair-skinned Aboriginal people" whom he had offended. But the judge went further by criticising the "tone" of Bolt's columns in the Herald-Sun, which had included "mockery and inflammatory language" and threatened "social harmony". Yet Bolt's comments last year were not more threatening to social harmony than Mundine's outburst last week.
Moreover, there is an issue of social policy involved. Professor Henry Reynolds stated it when interviewed by Four Corners in 2002. He argued that when "identity becomes the basis for a claim on the rest of us - that is, on the state or on the taxpayer - we all have to be concerned".
Last week, after upholding complaints against the broadcaster Alan Jones, the Australian Communications and Media Authority entered into an agreement with 2GB. As a result, Jones will be subjected to a form of re-education. He will be trained on "factual accuracy" and broadcasting "other significant viewpoints".
It's true 2GB has not one left-of-centre presenter for any of its key programs. But it's also true the ABC has not one conservative presenter or producer or editor for any of its prominent outlets. What's more, senior ABC management refuses to correct errors in documentaries broadcast on the ABC - as I have documented on my Media Watch Dog blog. Yet there is no call for the ABC to be re-educated with respect to fact-checking or to present other significant viewpoints.
It's surprising just how many academics and journalists are seemingly indifferent to demands to limit free expression. On October 12, Lateline ran a debate between Rod Tiffen (who was a paid consultant on the media inquiry of Ray Finkelstein, QC) and Campbell Reid (from News Limited).
The presenter Emma Alberici agreed with Tiffen that there was no big deal in the fact the ultimate sanction recommended by Finkelstein was jailing journalists - since editors could simply do as they were told by the proposed news media council. So, that's all right then, apparently.
Despite the fact there would be no right of appeal against a decision of the NMC and despite the fact the NMC would be chosen by senior academics who have historically been deficient themselves in overseeing plurality in the social science departments of universities which, like the ABC, resemble conservative-free zones.
Sure, Mundine may have offended some last week. But he did strike a blow for free speech in a society in which there is a growing demand to censor unfashionable opinion.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.