Farmer barred from East Lansing market for same-sex wedding opposition

EAST LANSING — A Michigan farmer has been barred from participating in the East Lansing farmer’s market after he posted why he wouldn’t host same-sex weddings at his orchard, a columnist for The Detroit News reported.

From The Detroit News:

Last December, [Steve] Tennes, who owns the Country Mill Orchard and Cider Mill in Charlotte, wrote a Facebook post explaining his family’s Catholic views on marriage, and how their deeply held beliefs are why his farm won’t host same-sex weddings.

The city’s response — banning him from its farmers market — reminded the former Marine of the time he spent near the border of North Korea. Tennes could see into the country, and it impacted him how people there live their entire lives in fear of the government.

That’s how he felt when he got the letter from East Lansing.

“I felt it in my gut. This isn’t real,” Tennes recalls.“We have freedom of speech in this country.”

Tennes felt especially betrayed that he was being denied rights he fought to defend while serving his country. His wife Bridget is a former Army nurse.

The East Lansing government isn’t backing down. In fact, it broadened the definition of its civil rights ordinance specifically to ensure the couple wouldn’t have access to the farmers market this season. It applied the ordinance to all of a business’ practices: In this case, what the Tennes do on their personal property 22 miles from East Lansing.

“We require everybody to conform their business practices to the East Lansing ordinance in order to use East Lansing property to sell their goods so that is applied to everybody,” says East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows.

The farmer is suing the city claiming a first amendment violation.

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