Written by Don Byrd

A new federal lawsuit filed in Michigan may test further the tension between a vendor’s marriage service policies and a city’s nondiscrimination regulations. An East Lansing farm owner claims he was denied a spot in the city’s farmer’s market, where he has sold produce since 2010, because of his announced policy to refuse to host same-sex marriage ceremonies on his farm, which does allow weddings for heterosexual couples.

The East Lansing Journal reports:

City Manager George Lahanas said East Lansing has a long-standing civil rights ordinance addressing discrimination. He said that was clarified to include discrimination at “all business practices” in the 2017 policies for the city’s farmers market.

“When they applied, we decided to exclude them from the market based on that,” Lahanas said.

Kate Anderson, lead counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said East Lansing’s changes to the farmers market policies targeted Tennes specifically. 

“What (Tennes) did was not illegal,” Anderson said. “They are running their farm according to their beliefs, which is the right of every American. What is wrong here is the city of East Lansing targeting them and trying to discriminate against them for acting upon their beliefs and for believing.”

Meanwhile, another case involving the refusal to provide services for wedding ceremonies – Masterpiece Cakeshop – remains at the U.S. Supreme Court without yet being accepted or declined. Stay tuned.