East Lansing farmers market dispute heading back to court

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In 2016,  the Country Mill Farms was banned from the East Lansing farmers market over the farm owners views on same sex marriage. The issue went to court and now it’s headed back again.

Steve Tennes is the owner of Country Mill Farms in Charlotte. Since 2010, he’s sold his fruit at the East Lansing farmers market, but that tradition almost came to an end in August of 2016 and it still might. 

Steve said someone asked a question on the farms Facebook page. They wanted to know about the family farm’s beliefs on marriage.

Steve responded that because of their catholic beliefs, they don’t host same-sex marriages at the farm. 

After that comment, Steve said he was asked not to come back to the East Lansing farmers market.

East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said that decision was made because of the city’s civil rights ordinance that bans discrimination.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with their religion, they’re free to believe whatever they want,” said Meadows. “It’s a business operation. A business practice that is offensive to our ordinance and that’s why we continue to defend this case.”

“It’s really important, not just for us, but for all people to have the freedom to believe and speak freely about their beliefs without the fear of government punishment,” Tennes said.

For now, the Charlotte farmer is allowed to sell his produce at the farmers market all because of a preliminary injunction granted by the federal court. The city of East Lansing has to allow this now, but this decision may not last. 

A hearing is scheduled for Friday afternoon to discuss this case further in Kalamazoo. We plan to be there and will share what the next steps are for the farmer and the city.

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