Who knew a Facebook post politely explaining your beliefs could get you in so much trouble?
It’s just that, a Facebook post explaining their beliefs on marriage, that got the Tennes family farm kicked out of the local Farmer’s Market in East Lansing, Michigan. All they did was honestly answer a question about their views on same-sex marriage. As Catholics, they believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman as the Bible teaches, and they explained their beliefs accordingly in response to an inquiry. And that was the end of it. Or so they thought. East Lansing city officials apparently did not like the fact that the Tennes family dared to voice their beliefs – which, last time I checked, was a right protected by the First Amendment. Yet, East Lansing tried to keep them from coming back to the Farmer’s Market, telling them that hecklers might show up to protest their viewpoint on marriage. When Country Mill kept attending (with no protests to be seen), East Lansing resorted to other measures. Leading up to the 2017 Farmer’s Market, East Lansing sent out invitations to vendors as it had in the past. But for the first time in seven years, Country Mill Farms did not receive one. So, the Tennes family filled out an application to attend so that they could sell their apples, blueberries, and peaches at the market. They noticed that the city had added a new policy requiring all vendors to comply with East Lansing’s nondiscrimination law, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, not just at the Farmer’s Market but in all of their general business practices. This policy even applies to the Tennes family farm despite the fact the farm is located in Charlotte, Michigan, 22 miles outside of East Lansing. The Tennes family submitted their application since they happily serve anyone and everyone who wants to buy their fresh and organic produce at the Farmer’s Market. But East Lansing denied their application, claiming that they violated the policy by their speech on Facebook. This is a major violation of free speech and religious freedom, so Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed suit on the Tennes family’s behalf. This week on Freedom Matters, we sat down with Steve and Bridget Tennes and their attorney Kate Anderson, legal counsel for ADF, to discuss the case.