In Minnesota, one Christian couple is fighting a law that could potentially put them in jail. Much like the Masterpiece Cakeshop issue, Telescope Media Group owners Carl and Angel Larsen want to make promotional ads for their wedding film service. There’s just one problem.
The state’s Human Rights Act mandates that if the Larsons make films celebrating the marriage between one man and one woman, then they must make films celebrating same-sex marriages. If they don’t, officials have threatened to prosecute, and the couple could face “payment of a civil penalty to the state, triple compensatory damages, punitive damages up to $25,000, and even up to 90 days in jail.” So, either they go against their beliefs, or they could go to jail.
Last week, the case was heard before the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a 2016 case was brought to a lower court by the Larsons but was dismissed. The court mandated, at the time, that they provide same-sex wedding service or close that part of their business.
When describing the case, a leftist article complained that it wasn’t even “real” because the Larson’s hadn’t been harmed yet. Because the couple is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the author also claimed that the firm “specializes in anti-LGBTQ impact litigation.” However, that really isn’t the complete truth.
When explaining the case, the ADF legal page stated, “Americans don’t have to wait to be punished or thrown in jail before challenging unjust laws. Instead, they can file a pre-enforcement challenge, which is exactly what the Larsens have chosen to do. They have filed a lawsuit before entering the wedding field, seeking a court order that says Minnesota cannot threaten them with severe penalties and jail time if they exercise their First Amendment right to decline to promote a message with which they disagree,” adding, “Until they get a favorable ruling, the Larsens are refraining from making wedding films and muzzling their speech about God’s design for marriage to avoid the severe penalties for violating Minnesota’s law.”
Jeremy Tedesco, the ADF attorney who defended the couple, explained to the appeals court that the couple wants to “immediately enter the industry” but are afraid of being sanctioned under Minnesota’s Human Rights Act.
The company is designed to “glorify God.” Same-sex marriages would not do that, they argue.
Tedesco stated that the Larsens have the First Amendment right to refuse same-sex wedding customers, but by forcing them to serve gay customers, Minnesota is regulating “the creation of films.”
Tedesco faced Judges Bobby Shepherd, Jane Kelly, and David Ryan Stras. Shepherd is a conservative, who previously ruled on restrictions for abortion clinics, while Stras is a Trump appointee.
In a statement to the press, Tedesco said, “The government shouldn’t threaten filmmakers with fines and jail time to force them to create films that violate their beliefs. Carl and Angel are storytellers – they script, stage, conduct interviews, capture footage, select music, edit and more – all to tell compelling stories through film that promote their religious beliefs.”
Ordering the actions of one group of people, despite the protections ordered in the Constitution, isn’t protecting human rights, it’s forcible servitude. The Supreme Court agrees.
In the Masterpiece Cakeshop concurrence, written by Clarence Thomas and joined by Neil Gorsuch, Thomas wrote that a vast range of nondiscrimination laws should be held unconstitutional because they compel businesses to “communicate” a message.
Although no SCOTUS majority was confirmed at the time, the deciding voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy, has since retired. Many people knew that the Supreme Court vacancies would be determined by the 2016 presidential election, and voted accordingly.
It seems odd to most people that Democrats are now sounding a warning that “civil rights” are in jeopardy because of the two new justices, given the fact that it was Democrats who fought so hard against the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s.