An appeals court in Minnesota has ruled in favor of a Christian couple who refused to video same-sex marriages, according to the Christian Post. The couple filed a law suit in 2016 when Minnesota officials required them to comply.
According to the appeals court, the Minnesota Human Rights Act violated the First Amendment rights of Carl and Angel Larsen of Telescope Media Group.
“Indeed, if Minnesota were correct, there is no reason it would have to stop with the Larsens. In theory, it could use the MHRA to require a Muslim tattoo artist to inscribe ‘My religion is the only true religion’ on the body of a Christian if he or she would do the same for a fellow Muslim, or it could demand that an atheist musician perform at an evangelical church service,” Circuit Judge David Stras argued.
However, Circuit Judge Jane Kelly was not as convinced.
“The Larsens remain free to communicate any message they desire—about same-sex marriage or any other topic—or no message at all,” she wrote. “What they cannot do is operate a public accommodation that serves customers of one sexual orientation but not others. And make no mistake, that is what today’s decision affords them license to do.”
The lawsuit began in December 2016 when the couple filed a lawsuit against the MHRA, believing that the new law would infringe on their religious beliefs. The lower courts ruled against the couple in September 2017.
“…when a person views a wedding video, there is little danger that they would naturally attribute the video’s messages to the videographer,” U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim said after the lawsuit. “…the Larsens could easily disclaim personal sponsorship of the messages depicted in the wedding videos they create for clients.”
Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm who represents the Larsens, chose to appeal after the decision.
“Tolerance is a two-way street. Creative professionals who engage in the expression of ideas shouldn’t be threatened wit fines and jail simply for having a particular point of view about marriage that the government may not favor,” ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco said.
The decision largely overturned the lower court’s decision and has returned it back to the district court level.
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.