A couple from the Michigan community of Charlotte was recently surprised and saddened at being banned from their local farmers market over standing up for their strongly held religious convictions. The family in question, the Tennes, are the owners of a farm/business know as The Country Mill. The beginnings of the current situation occurred when the couple was asked about the possibility of hosting a same-sex marriage ceremony at the wedding venue located at The Country Mill. Given the couple’s devout Christian beliefs, they informed the potential client that they would not be willing to host a same-sex wedding ceremony at their venue. Though they were defending their religious beliefs, the couple quickly found out that there would be repercussions for the stance that they had taken.
The owners of The Country Mill responded to the wedding inquiry posted on their Facebook page by stating that due to their religious beliefs, they do not hold same-sex weddings on their farm property. They did however point the inquiring party to another orchard in the mid-Michigan region that does accommodate these types of weddings. They also noted that members of the LGBT community are welcome at their property for all other activities that they host. The County Mill owners pointed out that they have family and friends as well as professional connections who are part of the LGBT community. It was also emphasized that respecting the beliefs of others is something that is important to them. Due to this, they always do their best to remain respectful in these situations. It was this reply from the couple that has ended up causing significant controversy across the region. The response to the couple’s message included accusations of discrimination on their part.
The situation started to escalate when city officials found out what had been said in the Tennes Facebook post. The result of this was their removal from being able to participate in the local area’s farmers market that they were known to frequent. When the couple got news of this, they reacted with surprise and sadness. Both of them are former members of the military and they served with the idea that they were helping to protect freedom. They now believe that the freedom that they fought for to practice one’s own religious beliefs is being compromised by these types of actions. Steve Tennes has made it clear that he believes that it is wrong for his family to have been barred from participating at the market on the basis of their deeply held religious beliefs. He also has stated that no one should be removed from a market on the basis of their religion regardless of what faith they follow. The ADF’s Kate Anderson is providing legal counsel and she weighed in on the subject pointing out that it is not right for the family to be halted from selling their food because they took a stand based on their religious beliefs.