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Farm Owners Appeal $13,000 Fine For Denying Lesbian Wedding

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The owners of a farm north of Albany who refused to host the wedding of a lesbian couple two years ago are appealing a $13,000 fine from the state.

Melissa and Jennie McCarthy, who now live in New York City, filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Division against Liberty Ridge Farm outside Albany in October 2012.

"And they were really looking forward to having their wedding at Liberty Ridge," Mariko Hirose, their lawyer, said.

The State Human Rights Division fined the farmers, Robert and Cynthia Gifford, and said they must host same-sex ceremonies, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported.

The Giffords have appealed the ruling, which calls the farm a place of public accommodation.

"They've decided to open their business to the public, they have to provide ceremonies in an equal manor," Hirose said. 

Jim Trainor, the lawyer who is representing the Giffords, argued that the farm, which does private weddings by contract, is not actually a business which is open to the public.

"No one should have to make that choice between earning a living and living their faith," Trainor said. "The ceremonies are in the Giffords' backyard; it's not open to the public."

The McCarthys were not in court Monday. Melisa McCarthy said in a statement released by the NYCLU that they feel compelled to continue their fight.

"We will do whatever we can to make sure that no other couple has to deal with the same feelings of sadness and anxiety that we wrestled with from the moment we realized that, though the laws have changed, same-sex couples are far from being treated as equal,'' she said.

A five-judge appeals panel are expected to make a decision over the next two months.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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