Farmer awarded more than $800k after vindication for upholding traditional marriage

A Roman Catholic farmer, who was banned from a farmers’ market in the US state of Michigan because he only allows opposite-sex couples to use his property for weddings, has been awarded $825,000 following a court ruling.

In 2017, Country Mill Farms (CMF) owner Steve Tennes was barred from continuing to sell products at East Lansing Farmer’s Market, after he explained on Facebook that he doesn’t hire out his land for same-sex weddings because of his “deeply held religious belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman”.

Following CMF’s court victory last August, the city of East Lansing has agreed to pay the company $825,000 and uphold its right to operate in accordance with its religious beliefs.


In his court ruling in favour of Country Mill Farm, Judge Paul Maloney stated that the company was “forced to choose between their religious beliefs and a government benefit for which CMF was eligible”.

Kate Anderson, Senior Counsel at religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom, which supported the case, said: “The court was right to agree that the First Amendment protects Steve, like every other small business owner, to operate his business according to his faith and convictions.

“We’re pleased to favorably settle this lawsuit on behalf of Steve so he and his family can continue doing what Country Mill does best, as expressed in its mission statement: ‘glorifying God by facilitating family fun on the farm and feeding families.'”

Supreme Court

Last year, a Christian web designer won her Supreme Court case against a state law requiring artists to convey any message requested by a customer.

In 2016, Lorie Smith filed a pre-enforcement action against Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act in anticipation of attempts to force her to use her artistic talents to promote same-sex marriage.

In a landmark decision, the court overturned a lower court ruling which upheld the state’s compelled speech law.

Also see:

Govt urges companies to respect employees’ religious freedom

US Christian photographer cannot be forced to snap same-sex weddings

US court backs Christian academy’s right to receive preschool funding without abandoning ethos

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