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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Catholic farmer wins round in court versus East Lansing farmers market

Steve Tennes at a microphone
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Apple grower Steve Tennes at a news conference announcing the filing of his lawsuit against East Lansing.

The owner of a Mid-Michigan farm will be back at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market this Sunday after a judge today granted an injunction in his lawsuit against the city. 

Steve Tennes sued East Lansing when he was denied his usual spot at the farmer’s market. The city said the farmer's Facebook posts saying the Eaton County farm would not host same sex marriages went against a city ordinance.

Kate Anderson is one of Tennes’s attorneys. She says the judge recognized that the city potentially violated Tennes’ right to free speech and exercise of religion.

“It’s an excellent recognition of what the Constitution requires. The Constitution ensures everyone the right to speak freely and to make their own decisions about what they believe,” said Anderson.

The city tried to have the case dismissed. It says it’s not required to open its property and engage in commercial transactions with people who violate city policy.

But Federal Judge Paul Maloney granted an injunction because he says East Lansing likely violated the religious and free speech rights of Tennes. The judge says the apple farmer can return to the market, which runs through October, while his lawsuit proceeds.

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