On Monday, a federal judge dismissed a preliminary injunction aimed at protecting religious freedom, essentially ruling that a New York photographer cannot decline to photograph same-sex weddings because of her religious convictions.
According to The Christian Post, Judge Frank Geraci, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, dismissed a preliminary injunction by Emilee Carpenter of Emilee Carpenter Photography against the state’s anti-discrimination law.
“New York has a compelling interest in ensuring that individuals, without regard to sexual orientation, have equal access to publicly available goods and services, and that the Accommodation clause is narrowly tailored, as applied to Plaintiff, to serve that interest,” Geraci wrote in the ruling.
“As a result, even if the Accommodation clause compels speech or expressive association in a manner that implicates Plaintiff’s free-speech and free-association interests, the provision survives strict scrutiny,” added Geraci.
In April, Carpenter filed a lawsuit against the state of New York over an anti-discrimination law that would require her to photograph and blog about same-sex weddings. As a Christian, Carpenter felt her religious freedom was being violated because she would have to “promote messages that violate her religious beliefs or require her to participate in religious ceremonies that violate her religious beliefs, something she cannot do.”
Geraci, however, maintained that the states’ public accommodation laws are “neutral.”
“By only bringing an as-applied challenge, Plaintiff virtually concedes that the laws are facially neutral. … She raises no non-conclusory factual allegations that the laws were enacted with any kind of religious (or anti-religious) motivation,” the judge explained.
Representing Carpenter is Alliance Defending Freedom, an American conservative Christian nonprofit advocacy group committed to protecting religious freedom. Following Monday’s ruling, ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
“The court’s decision continues down a dangerous path of the government compelling artists to speak messages that violate their religious beliefs — or imposing steep fines, closing their businesses, or throwing them in jail,” Scruggs said in a statement.
Meanwhile, LGBT advocates praised the decision as a huge win for equality and inclusivity.
“An overwhelming majority of Americans of every race, faith, and political party support laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, and support for marriage equality has never been higher. Non-discrimination laws protect every citizen and send a signal that all are welcome, and that’s good for business,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. “LGBTQ+ acceptance is growing thanks to leaders in New York, like Attorney General James, who fight for equal treatment in every area of society and defend laws that secure it.”
Photo courtesy: Nicolas Ladino Silva/Unsplash
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.