The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian law firm, is representing Christian couple Carl and Angel Larsen, who are fighting Minnesota’s human rights act, which does not allow businesses to openly discriminate against people based on sexual orientation (video below).
The Larsens, who own Telescope Media Group in St. Cloud, have not been sued by any same-sex couples, but filed a preemptive lawsuit on Dec. 6 against the 2013 law, notes the Alliance Defending Freedom in a video.
The video begins by showing federal government buildings in Washington, D.C. -- the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court -- that have no involvement in the Minnesota law.
The video stresses the artistic and creative aspects of the Larsens, who are described as "Christian filmmakers."
The couple's website does not list any feature film credits, but does state: "Live events are an integral part of our business, we don’t just make the commercials to get people to come to your event, we do live presentation, video capture, directing, and web streaming."
Carl says in the video that his "artistic output is incredibly personal," and that his job as a video director is "storytelling." Carl adds that he wants to tell "marriage stories" and "stories about the glory of God in marriage."
In their lawsuit, filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Larsens claim their right to free expression is being "chilled and silenced" by the state law, notes the Star Tribune.
The Larsens describe themselves in the lawsuit as "Bible-believing Christians" who personally "believe that many see marriage as a punch line for jokes, a means for personal gratification, an arrangement of convenience, or a method of achieving social status."
The Larsens refused to comment to the Star Tribune, but their lawsuit says that Minnesota's law would force them into "promoting a conception of marriage that directly contradicts their religious beliefs."
There is no law forcing the Larsens to go into the wedding filming business. But the Larsens want to openly advertise that they will film only heterosexual weddings, not same-sex weddings, which is a public declaration of discrimination. The law also bans the denial of wedding services by "individuals, nonprofits or the secular business activities of religious entities," notes the Star Tribune.
Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey predicted "that sexual orientation will remain protected" under the state law, and added: "This lawsuit is part of a pattern of nationwide litigation that is now aimed at eroding the rights of LGBTQ Minnesotans."
"This [lawsuit] could open a real wide door to people citing religion in turning away customers they don’t like," Teresa Nelson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, told the newspaper. "It opens the door to a vast array of discrimination … if the court sides with the plaintiffs."
Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defending Freedom countered:
This is a right everybody has, not just a right in the realm of marriage. We wouldn’t want a Democratic speechwriter being made to write speeches for Trump under force of law or an atheist singer forced to sing Christian hymns at a church.
These are choices creative professionals can make. The worry is if the government can take it away from people like the Larsens, what’s to stop it from taking away from everyone else?