Farmers Banned From Farmers Market Get Their Day in Court

The case of a Michigan city that prohibited household farmers by selling their goods at a local farmers market on account of their spiritual beliefs about union headed to court Wednesday, at which lawyers from both sides claimed before a federal district judge.

Lawyers for Steve and Bridget Tennes, owners of Country Mill Farms at Charlotte, Michigan, requested the court to grant the Tennes household a preliminary injunction, a temporary arrangement that would let them market their produce at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market while the case proceeds.

“Since June 1, we’ve already missed three and a half a year of being able to attend East Lansing Farmer’s Market, where we’ve served everybody for the previous seven decades,” Steve Tennes told The Daily Signal by phone after the hearing.

“We just have approximately six months left of the market to have the ability to market, and also the … East Lansing Farmer’s Market was the biggest farmers market [at which] our household sold organic apples and cider.”

In May the Tenneses filed a federal lawsuit against East Lansing after the city prohibited them by selling produce at its farmers market because they stated on Facebook they don’t sponsor same-sex weddings in their farm.

“Due to our spiritual beliefs, we don’t take part in the party of a same-sex union,” they wrote in a part on Facebook at August 2016.

The city reacted by filing a motion. Both motions were observed for one hour Wednesday.

Maloney didn’t issue an oral decision, but is likely to issue a written order in coming weeks.

Country Mill Farms is situated 22 miles from East Lansing in the neighboring town of Charlotte. The Tenneses, who got a discrimination complaint, state selling their apples as well as other products at the city’s farmers market was an important source of income.

Even the Tenneses are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal nonprofit which also reflects Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker whose situation is going to the Supreme Court later he declined to make wedding cakes to same-sex couples.

John Bursch, a Michigan lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court in favor of the country’s ban on same-sex union in the milestone Obergefell v. Hodges case, lately joined Alliance Defending Freedom in safeguarding the Tenneses.

East Lansing officials assert the Tenneses’ policy simplifies the city’s anti-discrimination law.

The Daily Signal sough remark from city officials but didn’t receive a response by book time. In an interview with an Lansing State Journal, East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said businesses need to “behave in a particular way” to market their goods on city property.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with free speech,” Meadows said. “They could say whatever they need, but their company should behave in a particular way to qualify to market products at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market on publicly owned land.”

Lawyers on both sides vowed to appeal if necessary. Because just a few weeks remain to your Tenneses to market produce, they are hoping for a speedy decision.

“We think the law is entirely behind us the city has reached beyond its borders to especially punish one farmer because of his faith,” explained Kate Anderson, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom who argued the Tenneses’ situation.

“No one should need to bribe their perspectives to take part in a sector and no one must have their economic liberty threatened because of what they think,” Anderson stated. “We’re hopeful the judge will rule quickly on that basis.”

This article was updated to fix the month the Tenneses filed their suit.

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