The Larsens are trying to break into the wedding industry
The suit challenges the Minnesota Human Rights Act
The owners of a Minnesota video production company have filed a lawsuit, saying they shouldn’t be forced to shoot same-sex weddings.
“Creative professionals don’t surrender their freedom of speech and freedom from coercion when they choose to make a living with their art,” Carl and Angel Larsen told CNN.
The Larsens, owners of Telescope Media Group, are trying to break into the wedding industry, but only heterosexual weddings. They claim that a state law that bars them from refusing same-sex couples as clients would cause them to violate their religious beliefs about marriage.
“We want everyone to be free to create and free to express themselves in a way that is consistent with their beliefs.”
The federal lawsuit challenges the Minnesota Human Rights Act, a state law prohibiting discrimination in the state based on race, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, or disability.
A 2013 addition to the Minnesota Human Rights Act specifically makes it illegal for businesses to intentionally refuse to do business with someone because of their sexual orientation. A violation is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.
An orthodox definition of marriage
In the lawsuit, the Larsens say they adhere to a “biblically-orthodox definition of marriage” – one between a man and woman – and that they would be violating their religious beliefs if their company produced a video featuring same-sex marriage.
“The Larsens believe that everything they do – personally and professionally—should be done in a manner that glorifies God,” the lawsuit says.
But Kevin Lindsey, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Right, sees the Larson’s lawsuit as an attempt to undermine LGBTQ civil liberties. (Lindsey is one of the defendants listed in the suit, along with Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.)
“This lawsuit is part of a pattern of nationwide litigation that is now aimed at eroding the rights of LGBTQ Minnesotans,” Lindsey said.
In 2014, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced a settlement against Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation, Inc. the operators of a wedding venue that had refused to rent to a same-sex couple. The settlement required the venue to pay the costs associated with the couple’s wedding ceremony and reception and apologize to the couple.
According to the Larsen’s lawsuit, they have temporarily stopped providing any wedding ceremony services until the issue is resolved.