Refusal to host gay event brings suit in N.Y.

ALBANY, N.Y. — Two upstate New York women turned away from a potential wedding site because they are gay have filed a discrimination complaint, setting up a possible precedent-setting battle involving the state’s new same-sex marriage law.

The complaint with the state Division of Human Rights appears to be a first involving a wedding venue since same-sex marriage became legal in New York in July 2011, according to advocates on both sides of the issue.

One prominent gay-marriage opponent said the case could test the breadth of the law’s religious freedom language.


Melisa Erwin and Jennie McCarthy, of Albany, filed the complaint Oct. 11 after the nearby Liberty Ridge Farm said it would not host their wedding next summer.

Get Ground Game in your inbox:
Daily updates and analysis on national politics from James Pindell.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

McCarthy said when the owners, Robert and Cynthia Gifford, found out they were a same-sex couple, the women were told there was a problem.

The couple is no longer considering the farm as a wedding venue, but McCarthy said, ‘‘We just want to know that the policy is being changed to fit the laws so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.’’

The Giffords have objections to gay marriage based on their values and religious background, their spokesman said Monday.

Associated Press