Editor's note - Friday's midday news briefs may be pre-empted.
And just like that, the religious right has another so-called victim of marriage equality persecution.
According to anti-lgbtq hate group the Family Research Council:
In another astounding case of intolerance, Country Mill Orchards was kicked out of the sellers group last August when city officials got wind of the couple’s biblical views on marriage. After seven years of hosting one of the most popular stalls at the market, they’ve been pushed out because they dared to agree with 53 percent of the American people! Of course, the irony is, the Tenneses never mentioned marriage at the market -- this was all the result of a Facebook fishing expedition from a potential wedding client.
When two women asked to be married on the farm in 2014, the Tennes turned them down, explaining that because of their faith, they referred same-sex couples to neighboring farms. Two years later, the couple decided to launch a social media smear campaign, urging people to stay away from Country Mill. When their post was brought to East Lansing’s attention, local leaders raced to pass an ordinance directly targeting small business owners like the Tenneses. In a press conference this week, Steve could only shake his head at the strong-arm tactics of the Left. “East Lansing [had] posted on their Facebook page: ‘We love the Country Mill.’ That came to an abrupt end that same August [when the family went public with their views]. Because of our beliefs,” Steve went on, “the city of East Lansing strongly and immediately pressured us not to return to the farmers market that very weekend. Ultimately, the city developed a new policy to target and block our farm from further participation in their city-run farmers market.”
And here’s the kicker: the Tenneses not only serve people who identify as LGBT -- they employ them! But that’s not enough for the extreme Left, who will accept nothing less than the full and complete surrender of every Christian’s First Amendment rights. As Steve pointed out, “Our faith and beliefs on marriage and hosting weddings at our home and in our backyard of our farm have nothing to do with the city of East Lansing. Nor does it have anything to do with the produce that we sell to the people that attend the farmers markets who are from all backgrounds and all beliefs.”
The attack on the Tenneses is especially upsetting since both Steve and Bridget are military veterans, and they -- more than anyone -- know the price of freedom. “We were surprised, and we were shocked,” Steve told Fox News’s Todd Starnes. “My wife and I both volunteered to serve in the military to protect freedom. Now we come home and the freedom that we worked to protect, we have to defend in our own backyard.”
Now, the veterans are fighting a new battle to keep this same harassment from happening to other Americans. Together with Alliance Defending Freedom, the family is taking East Lansing to court, demanding their reinstatement in the local market. “We have to stand up for what’s right and be able to speak freely about our beliefs,” Steve said determinedly. “And to live out our own beliefs at our own home on our own farm.”
To paraphrase Thelma Ritter from 'All About Eve,' it's a good story . . including the part about the hounds snapping at their rear ends.
Let's move past FRC's ridiculous embellishment to focus on the part which the group omitted:
To be able to sell your crops at the East Lansing farmer's market you have to agree to the city's non-discrimination ordinance.
"I think it's a very strong principle that you should not be discriminating against somebody elsewhere and then come here and want to participate in our market," George Lahanas said. He’s the East Lansing City Manager.
Lahanas says that's why Steve Tennes with the country mill was told not to come back to the market. Tennes says he won't allow same-sex couples to get married on his orchard because of his religious beliefs. He says he's being bullied for his faith.
"Hosting weddings at our home and in the backyard of our farm have nothing to do with the city of East Lansing. Nor does it have anything to do with the produce that we sell," Tennes. He says he has the right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech...
But Lahanas says... "It's got nothing to do with their free speech it has to do with their business practice," Lahanas said. . . . He says this issue has been going on since august. That's when the city told Tennes he was violating the ordinance, so the country mill stopped holding weddings altogether. They were allowed to stay in the market. But in December, they announced they'd hold weddings again, still excluding same-sex couples. Lahanas says if they allow same-sex couples or stop holding weddings altogether again, they'd be welcomed back.
If this ado was about any group other than the lgbtq community, there would be no question that the Tenneses would have to follow the law. What makes things different now?
Already I can hear some gays sympathizing with these farmers.
And I wish more of us would start asserting a hard line in situations like this. It was our community who did everything the right way. We went through the courts and won marriage fair and square. Why do we have to give allowances which would serve to undermine what we fairly attained? If you think groups supporting this farmer will stop if they win, you are deluding yourself. They won't stop trying to undermine marriage equality in any way they can.
It's not a question of forcing people to accept anything BUT the law. Folks who don't agree with marriage equality don't have to like it, but they shouldn't exploit their religion to keep from following the law. A degree of selfishness and stubbornness is more than appropriate here from our side. NO allowances given to any secular bodies seeking to exploit their faith in order to take away or undermine what we earned.
Not even a little bit.
Not even to a farmer.