The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is back with yet another suit trying to overturn a law protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
This time, ADF is representing a married couple that makes videos in Minnesota. They want to profit off making videos for people’s weddings, but they oppose same-sex marriage for religious reasons, so they don’t want to have to sell their services to same-sex couples.
ADF filed a suit Tuesday on behalf of Carl and Angel Larsen, owners of Telescope Media Group, challenging the constitutionality of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. The Larsens claim that if they are forced to sell their services to same-sex couples, it violates their free speech, expressive association, free exercise of religion, equal protection, and procedural due process. The law specifically requires that any service businesses like them provide to different-sex couples they must provide to same-sex couples, but they argue it just shouldn’t apply to them.
“The Larsens are deeply concerned that American culture is increasingly turning away from the historic, biblically-orthodox definition of marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman,” the suit states, “and that more and more people are accepting the view that same-sex marriage is equivalent to one-man, one-woman marriage.” They desire to “counteract the current cultural narrative” by making videos celebrating marriages between one man and one woman “that magnify and honor God’s design and purpose for marriage.”
But there’s a blatant lie at the heart of the suit’s claims. It becomes clear in this passage:
By requiring that the Larsens celebrate same-sex weddings if they celebrate weddings between one man and one woman, Minnesota denies to the Larsens the means to convey their creative, religiously-motivated message about God’s design for marriage and compels the Larsens to express the precise message they wish to counter and with which they disagree.
Given the nature of the wedding industry and the fact that weddings are typically not open to the general public, the Larsens would not have access to and be able to capture weddings if couples did not hire them for their weddings.
There is nothing preventing Larsens from making videos about marriage that contain their blatant opposition to same-sex marriage. They can even ask different-sex couples for permission to film their weddings to get the footage they need. But what they want is to profit off making wedding videos while discriminating.
For example, the suit highlights how eager the Larsens are to market their videography business at a wedding expo in January. Alas, they can’t offer wedding services without being in violation of the law because they only want to sell those services to different-sex couples.
As in the similar cases ADF is litigating, the anti-LGBT law firm again argues that there’s a double standard in the law against the Larsens. Businesses can express their support for same-sex marriage without violating the law, so they should be able to express their opposition without violating the law. This, of course, ignores the fact that they are free to publicly share their views, they just can’t publicly advertise an intent to discriminate.
In one particularly insidious passage, ADF actually cites Obergefell, the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, to justify the Larsens’ intended discrimination. The decision states that the Constitution’s fundamental liberties “extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs.” Because “the right to pursue one’s entrepreneurial dreams is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition,” not allowing the Larsens to discriminate because of their religious beliefs “is to strip them of their identity, dignity, liberty, and potential to find fulfillment and to impose on them an abhorrent degree of stigma and injury.”
But of course, like the other arguments the suit makes, this completely ignores that the Larsens are free to make any video they want. They just can’t sell a product to people of one sexual orientation and not to people of another sexual orientation.
This is only the latest in a growing litany of cases ADF has filed or taken on to justify discrimination against LGBT people. They have filed similar preemptive challenges against protections in Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona on behalf of a website designer and a pair of calligraphers wishing to refuse service to same-sex couples in those respective places. The calligraphers have already lost their case in court once, but they are appealing.
ADF is also defending several vendors who have already refused service to same-sex couples in violation of state or local laws, including a florist in Oregon, a baker in Colorado, and a t-shirt printer in Lexington, Kentucky. Only in that last case has ADF prevailed at any level.