Federal Court Sides with Catholic Farmer in This Significant Case – Watch
A Michigan federal court has sided with a Catholic farmer who was booted from a farmer’s market over his traditional marriage views.
Steve Tennes, who owns Country Mill Farms, was banned in 2017 from the East Lansing farmer’s market by city officials after he posted on Facebook that he follows the Catholic Church’s teachings on marriage, which includes opposing same-sex weddings at his family’s orchard.
Officials in East Lansing reacted by using a “discretionary system of individual assessments” to ban Tennes and his farm from participating in the seasonal market, despite Tennes never receiving any complaints from customers, his legal team said.
Tennes and his farm sued the city of East Lansing in 2017.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney ruled that the city’s ban on Tennes “constituted a burden on plaintiffs’ religious beliefs.”
Tennes and his farm “were forced to choose between following their religious beliefs and a government benefit for which they were otherwise qualified,” violating his right to exercise his religion freely, Maloney ruled.
“The reason is simple: denying a person an equal share of the rights, benefits, and privileges enjoyed by other citizens because of her faith discourages religious activity,” the court said, quoting the 6th Circuit appeals court.
Tennes was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative legal group.
“Tennes and Country Mill Farms are grateful for the court’s decision protecting religious liberty,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson, who argued before the court for Tennes.
“At the same time, they are eager to mend fences with current city officials and get back to doing what Country Mill does best—as expressed in its mission statement: ‘glorifying God by facilitating family fun on the farm and feeding families,’” Anderson said.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WIN!
Steve Tennes, owner of Country Mill Farms, was excluded from a city-run farmer's market for expressing his religious view of marriage on Facebook.
Thanks to Monday's ruling by a federal court, he may continue to participate at the farmer's market.
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) August 22, 2023