Arguments in Country Mill Farms v City of East Lansing were held this week in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Kalamazoo.
"The main idea that we conveyed to the court this week was that the government cannot treat some people worse than others simply because it does not like their religious beliefs. But that's really exactly what the city of East Lansing did to farmer Steve Tennes and his farm, Country Mill," says attorney Rachel Csutoros of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing Tennes.
"Steve responded honestly to a question that he received on his Facebook page on his religious beliefs, which was that marriage is between a man and a woman," the attorney continues. "And when the city of East Lansing saw this, they crafted an ordinance really specifically to target Steve and his family to keep them from coming to the market. So the city of East Lansing punished him simply for his beliefs about marriage."
The case began in 2016, when Tennes received that question and responded.
"We brought this case in May 2017, and the judge ruled in September of 2017 for a preliminary injunction so he could basically continue to go the farmers market until this case was resolved, which we just went to trial in," Csutoros explains. "If the city of East Lansing officials have the power to target one person for their beliefs, they can target anyone."
"You do not have to agree with Steve's family views on marriage to support his freedom to live and work consistently with their faith," the ADF attorney concludes.