As always seems to happen with cases involving a person claiming the right not to hold a gay wedding on their property, the result is punished. He now can’t sell his goods at the East Lansing’s market anymore. He is not anti-gay. He doesn’t want to host a gay wedding, he considers that a religious ritual between a man and a woman.
For the past six years, one Michigan farmer has shared their organic fruit at a local farmers market, but now their religious beliefs are standing in the way of that tradition.
The kerfuffle between Steve Tennes, who owns a 120-acre orchard in Charlotte, Michigan, and the city officials in East Lansing — which is more than 20 miles away — began when he expressed his views on gay marriage in a Facebook post last year.
Following the initial Facebook post, which was published in response to a lesbian woman interested in hosting her wedding at Tennes’ orchard, Country Mill, the Michigan farmer received a warning from an East Lansing official that if he tried selling fruit at the city’s farmers market, it could incite protests.
But when Tennes — along with his wife Bridget and their children — gathered at the market last summer to sell their organic apples, peaches, and cherries, no protesters showed up.
In 1972, East Lansing became the first community in the U.S. to enact an anti-discrimination ordinance that provided protections for the LGBT community. It blocked the city from discriminating based on sexual orientation in its employment, housing, public accommodations, and services.
So now, the Tennes family is suing East Lansing for religious discrimination. The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the family farmers.
Tennes, a Marine veteran and the spouse of an Army veteran, told The Daily Signal that their decision to file a lawsuit is consistent with their philosophy of defending freedom.
“My wife Bridget and I volunteered to serve our country in the military to protect freedom,” Tennes said, “and that is why we feel we have to fight for freedom now, whether it’s Muslims’, Jews’, or Christians’ right to believe and live out those beliefs.
“The government shouldn’t be treating some people worse than others because they have different thoughts and ideas,” he said.
People of faith should be able to work and still hold their beliefs without losing their livelihood. For the government to shut down this farmer because of his religious views is preposterous.
In March, after filing an application to participate in the market, Tennes received a letter from East Lansing officials, telling him he had been rejected as a vendor because “Country Mill’s general business practices do not comply with East Lansing’s civil rights ordinances and public policy against discrimination.”
East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows told the Lansing State Journal that the decision to block Tennes’ orchard had nothing to do with the family’s religious beliefs but was instead related to the farm’s “business decision” not to host same-sex weddings.
“This is about them operating a business that discriminates against LGBT individuals, and that’s a whole different issue,“ the mayor said.
Kate Anderson, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued lawmakers in East Lansing are “setting a standard” of religious discrimination.
“East Lansing is setting a standard that you cannot participate in our public venues and you cannot participate in our marketplace,” she said. “We can hurt your livelihood if you don’t ascribe to a belief that we agree with.”
This is the Lefts agenda, to silence Free speech and eliminate Christianity from the public. Kudos to the Tennes family for standing up, and filing a lawsuit against the city for religious discrimination.