Just last month, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of Minnesota could not force Christian wedding videographers Carl and Angel Larsen to create content that violates their religious beliefs. With this decision, the Larsens thought their three-year court battle was over. But it turns out Minnesota officials aren’t willing to accept defeat.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero announced that they will take the Larsens back to court, choosing to return to federal district court rather than appeal the appellate panel’s decision.
“Business owners’ free speech and beliefs are already fully protected under the First Amendment. What they want is a license to discriminate against LGBTQ folks,” Ellison claimed.
In an op-ed for the Minnesota Star Tribune, Ellison and Lucero admitted that they would most likely lose if they appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court due to its conservative majority.
“If creating a wedding video is a creative act of expression, as the 8th Circuit argued,” she wrote, “then the right to create is wholly discretionary and protected by the First Amendment. How the Larsens choose to use their talents and who they offer their services to is their choice, not Ellison’s, not Minnesota’s.”
“But because that choice could offend LGBT individuals,” she added, “Ellison believes he has the right and the responsibility to get involved. Ellison’s argument is entirely unconvincing, which is why he lost in court the first time and why he will lose again. … Religious freedom has no place in a politically correct society.”
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco is ready to continue the fight to guarantee his clients’ religious liberty rights.
“Carl and Angel won a great free speech victory at the 8th Circuit, which rightly affirmed that the government has no power to force people to express messages that violate their deepest convictions,” Tedesco said in a statement. “This principle protects everyone. It means that the state can’t threaten the Larsens with jail time for declining to create a film promoting a view of marriage that violates their religious beliefs. It also prevents the government from forcing an atheist musician to perform at an evangelical church service or a Democratic speechwriter to write speeches for a Republican.
“We look forward to securing a final victory that prevents the state from using its power to banish people of faith from the public square.”