Updated: Jul 2, 2020
This post should not be construed as legal advice.
If you run an agritourism operation, you have a lot of legal issues to consider. What happens if someone is injured while on your farm? What happens if someone gets sick eating food from a concession area? The list can go on and on. Something that may not be on a lot of your minds is how marriage equality laws and anti-discrimination laws impact your agritourism operation, especially if you operate as a venue for weddings. These can have a huge impact on your farm.
In Gifford v. McCarthy, the New York Appellate Division upheld damages and a civil fine assessed against the Giffords for refusing to rent the wedding facility on their farm for McCarthy’s same-sex wedding.
The background is pretty straightforward. The Giffords operate a 100-acre farm in New York that harvests and sells crops to the public and rents a portion of the farm to the public as a venue for weddings, receptions, and other events. The Giffords’ farm is not a private club, non-profit, or religious entity (this will be important later on).
McCarthy contacted the Giffords in 2011 about using the Giffords’ farm