A federal appeals court has sided with the First Amendment rights of a Minnesota Christian filmmaking couple who want to expand their business to include wedding videos.
Based on Minnesota’s antidiscrimination law, the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), the state ruled that Carl and Angel Larsen, owners of Telescope Media Group, had to create videos celebrating same-sex “marriages” if they wanted to continue creating videos to celebrate the marriage between one man and one woman. Failure to comply with the law could have resulted in steep fines or even jail time for up to three months.
The couple challenged the application of the state law to the video’s they produced, but the federal district court dismissed their claim.
Then late last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit overruled the lower court. The appellate court ruled that the MHRA effectively compelled the Larsens to create speech contrary to their religious beliefs and also regulated speech based on the viewpoint being expressed, both of which violate the First Amendment. It, therefore, reinstated the lawsuit and ordered the district court to consider whether the couple was entitled to a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the law against them.
This is the first time that religious business owners have been able to invoke First Amendment rights when refusing to serve a same-sex wedding.
“We are thankful the court recognized that government officials can’t force religious believers to violate their beliefs to pursue their passion. This is a win for everyone, regardless of your beliefs,” said Carl Larsen after the court’s decision.
The case is being sent back to the lower court unless Minnesota appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ruling in Marriage and Filmmaking Case a Victory for Religious Freedom
The Gospel Coalition
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