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UPDATE: Federal Judge Rules Farmer Can Return To EL Market

husband and wife on farm
Kevin Lavery
Country Mill Farms owners Steve and Bridget Tennes sued the city of East Lansing after they were prohibited from selling their wares at the East Lansing Farmers Market.

UPDATE filed by Cheyna Roth of the Michigan Public Radio Network:

A mid-Michigan farmer that was denied an application to the 2017 East Lansing farmer's market can go to the market for the rest of the 2017 season. The farmer sued the city when he was denied a spot. The city said the farmer's Facebook posts saying the farm would not host same sex marriages went against a city ordinance. The farmer says, this violates his free speech and free exercise of religion. The farmer asked for an order from the judge saying he could sell produce at the market while the case is underway. The judge granted the request saying the farmer has a "substantial likelihood of success" on at least one of his claims.


A federal judge in Michigan is considering the arguments in a case of a Charlotte farmer who’s challenging an East Lansing city ordinance. 


U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney made no ruling Wednesday in the case involving Country Mill Farms and the East Lansing Farmers Market. 

The city prohibited Country Mill owner Steve Tennes from selling at the market this summer after he expressed on Facebook his religious views opposing same-sex marriage. 

Tennes sued on the grounds of free speech. 

“It’s very dangerous to have a city in a position where they think they can restrict access to public benefits, to public property, to economic freedom just to those that agree with the city,” says Tennes’ attorney Kate Anderson with the Alliance Defending Freedom.

East Lansing claims Tennes’ post “outlines a business practice” that violates the city’s civil rights policy. 

The judge may either dismiss the case or grant an injunction that may allow Country Mill to participate in the final week of the farmer’s market.


Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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