Michigan farmer barred from market because of his Catholic beliefs.


A Catholic farmer in Charlotte, Michigan has been barred by the City of East Lansing from the farmers market where he has been selling his produce for years.

According to the farmer, Stephen Tennes, the city’s ruling came after he refused to host a same-sex wedding at his farm.  He has filed a lawsuit against the city for violating his civil rights.

I hope he wins.  But in the meantime, I honestly think this is the kind of thing that will help keep states like Michigan trending red in future elections.  Of course, Michigan could easily go back to blue, and no doubt the primary factor in favor of Trump’s flipping the state in 2016 was economic, but there was also an undeniable backlash in middle America to the overreach of the progressive social agenda during the eight years of the Obama presidency.  It’s a pretty big leap from saying gay people should be able to get married to saying anyone who thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman should be shunned from society.  The fact is, most Michiganders won’t see Stephen Tennes as a bigot.  They’ll see him as their hard-working neighbor and a pretty regular guy, who just happens to have the same views on marriage that practically everyone else did until five minutes ago.

That’s where the Left misread the American public, big time, and it’s going to continue to hurt them in elections unless they recognize it.

Here’s hoping they don’t.  Michigan looks good in red.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

John White lives in the Chicago area with his wife and seven children.


  1. “Michigan farmer barred from market for violating city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.”
    There, I fixed your headline for you. This is the best work you and I have co-authored!

    • @AP: No, he was barred for being a practicing Catholic. Nice attempt to try to twist the issue AP.

      Freedom of religion is our first freedom. The courts* have said gay people have the right to be married. But this does not give them the right to force those whose faith informs them that they must not participate in such union ceremonies as it implies that they condone it. If this farmer was the only venue for the couple to be married, you would have a point I suppose. BUT this has never been the case with these unjust lawsuits by gays who are just being vindictive in punishing those who won’t condone their immoral unions. The florist was not the only photographer but was sued anyway as was the photographer in Arizona.

      Homosexuality is a case of arrested psycho-sexual development. This was taught to health care professionals in their education until about forty years ago when the APA suddenly announced, with no legitimate research data to support their claim, that homosexuality is now considered normal and not a pathological condition. So they removed it from their list as a pathological diagnosis. Yes, people with impressive credentials in the field of psychology sometimes make things up, a tradition going back to Freud himself and this is a classic example of it.

      And the trend continues as next it was announced that trans-gendered people should just accept the gender they believe they are, not accept what their sex really is as determined by their sex organs. Again, no extensive legitimate studies or research to prove this theory was done. At the time, Johns Hopkins accepted this recommendation from the APA and started doing sex reassignment surgery. Well, John Hopkins surgeons are true health professionals so they of course followed up these patients and lo and behold, they found that the rate of suicide in these patients increased AND in general, even if they didn’t kill themselves they were no happier. So they STOPPED doing this kind of surgery, believing it was not in the best interest of patients. Until this day, they will NOT do this kind of surgery.

      Now realize that trans genders have conditions in the same category as those with anorexia nervosa. Anorexics do not see their body as it is in reality. They can be skeletal, but still think they are fat. Well, likewise, transgenders think they are the opposite sex than what they are in reality. And like anorexics, the proper treatment is to counsel them to accept the REALITY of their bodily condition, in this case their sexual identity, not delude themselves with their erroneous beliefs of their sex.

      A more recent example of this nonsense is the mental health professional who testified that the 16 year old teen in Texas was suffering from “Affluenza” (a made up diagnosis) and therefore not responsible for the deaths of four people he killed when he drove drunk. The judge believed the testimony, I suppose because the psychologist had impressive credentials after his name. I don’t know who is worse….the psychologist or the judge. The judge should be disbarred. The psychologist needs….well, counseling.

      *BTW, the Supreme Court once ruled that slavery was okay. It was religious people, mainly Christians, who objected and eventually the moral principle won out and we ended that disgusting immoral practice. Well, gay “marriage” is just as immoral and wrong as slavery. Just because some people want to go along with it and condone it does not change the reality that it is wrong.

      God bless this farmer for standing up for God’s moral principles.

      You may think your comment is clever. It is not. It is pathetic and wrong.

      • May,
        Putting aside your insults and insinuations, the extent of your ignorance makes me question whether it’s even worthwhile responding to you.
        You’re entitled to your own opinions (however misguided they may be), but not your own facts. If you want to smear LGBT people, go right ahead. There are still many ways to legally discriminate against them, so you’ll be fine.
        However, you clearly don’t understand how to read and interpret the law. I’m guessing you’re not interested in learning, but just FYI, no constitutional right goes unchecked, and the issue you bring up about there being other businesses has no relevance to the applicable laws and ordinances in these cases. That’s not how the law works. You can argue that this ordinance is unconstitutional (which you’ll lose), or that it is being misinterpreted, but you cannot just substitute your own feelings, go on an anti-gay rant, and believe that’s a persuasive argument for rational people.
        Also, you know what’s funny? Telling you that Johns Hopkins just opened THE CENTER FOR TRANSGENDER HEALTH that will perform surgery.
        I do agree with you about “affluenza” in Texas. That was not only completely wrong, but offensive. It doesn’t surprise me that it was in Texas though.
        Interesting you bring up slavery. You know who the main supporters of slavery were in this country? Christians, who had a deeply-held religious belief that it was condoned in the Bible.
        In the future, you should get your facts straight before accusing other people of twisting the issue.

      • As gay marriage is a religious belief in the Presbyterian, Episcopalian and Unitarian faiths, can this religious belief be discriminated against?

  2. Ryan Schroeder on

    Legally, this seems shaky since the farmer in question lives outside of East Lansing, and he’s not discriminating against who he sells produce to at the farmer’s market.

    That being said, at some point it seems that we need to figure out a way to respect all beliefs. I think we would all agree municipalities can pass anti-discrimination ordinances. If the farmer can opt out based on his beliefs, what about those whose beliefs are protected by the ordinance? Whether we like it or not, some religions endorse gay marriage as a valid belief (Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Unitarians).

    • It is apparently the policy of the farmers market that all vendors comply with the city’s civil rights ordinances both at the market and “as a general business practice.” So legally it doesn’t matter if the farmer lives outside of East Lansing. The only question appears to be whether his actions constitute a “general business practice.” Since he has publicly declared his intention to deny gay couples the right to rent his farm for weddings (which he will still do for hetero couples), that will likely be seen as a general business practice.

      • Anonymous Commenter on

        I think that makes sense, since it relates directly to commerce. If I publicly stated that in my business I oppose — and therefore often flout — the city’s consumer protection laws, or laws on fraud, or sales tax laws, etc., I would expect to be denied a vendor license at the Farmers Market. This isn’t about religion, its about commerce.

  3. Again it is only a one way street. Will Jew’s be forced to perform skin head weddings next and when will muslims be forced to do ,, well, anything they don’t agree with ???

    • We are “forced” to do things all the time. It is certainly not a one-way street. We are a nation of LAWS that everyone needs to follow. It’s very simple. Nobody is forced to open a business or provide a public service. If you do, you need to follow the law and provide the same service for everyone, or not provide that service. The problem starts when people think they are above the law and can pick and choose which ones to follow.

      • However, it can be easily shown that Muslim bakeries will refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding, and exactly how many of those have been put out of business for that decision? And yet Christian bakeries are being closed.

        • If your “evidence” about a Muslim bakery comes from a heavily-edited video by a failed-comedian-turned-amateur-rightwing-provocateur, that’s not going to hold up.

    • Being a skinhead is not a protected class like religious belief. Whether you like it or not, gay marriage is a religious belief of Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Unitarians. Can business owners discriminate against others’ religious practices?

      • The farmer here isn’t telling any protestants that they can’t marry gay people in their churches.

        He doesn’t have to share their beliefs on the matter, does he?

        • He doesn’t have to share their beliefs, but he needs to follow the city ordinances if he wants to sell at the farmer’s market. He wants to flout the restrictions and still gain the benefits. Doesn’t work that way in the real world.

  4. I’m not sure why a Catholic farmer is allowing any marriages to be performed on his farm since the Catholic Church says marriages should by performed in a church.

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