LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, took part in a press conference Wednesday that highlighted Country Mill Farms and its owner Steve Tennes, who was forced to sue the city of East Lansing after the city prohibited him from being able to continue as a vendor at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market because of his beliefs.
Steve and Bridget Tennes and Country Mill Farms had sold apples to all customers at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market for the past six years without incident. However, when they posted a message on Facebook about their beliefs on marriage, the city of East Lansing notified them that they were no longer welcomed as a vendor.
Alliance Defending Freedom held the press conference and is representing Mr. Tennes and his family farm in court.
“Too often people are fearful to stand up for their First Amendment rights, particularly in today’s age of virtual bullying via social media,” Sen. Colbeck said. “But it’s government’s role to ensure such people can secure their rights, and not to be complicit in taking them away like the city of East Lansing is attempting to do here.
“I’m extremely proud to support the Tennes family for being willing to bring this matter more attention so that it can be highlighted and overturned. A city simply has no legal right to ban a business from participating in a farmer’s market because they don’t like the religious viewpoints of a vendor.”
The press conference was held in the Speaker’s Library at the state Capitol. Alliance Defending Freedom filed the lawsuit today in federal court.