Courthouse News reports:
The Eighth Circuit paved the way Friday for two Christian videographers to subvert a Minnesota nondiscrimination law that would make them film gay weddings. Carl and Angel Larsen are the husband-and-wife team behind Telescope Media Group.
Though they challenged the Minnesota Human Rights Act as unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge John Tunheim in Minneapolis dismissed their case after finding that their professional policy of promoting marriage as a bond between one man and one woman was akin to posting a sign that said “white applicants only.”
Reversing Friday, a divided three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit emphasized that the Larsens have a First Amendment right “to choose when to speak and what to say.” The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the plaintiffs, lauded the decision out of St. Louis.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota in 2013, and nationwide in 2015. The Larsens said they wanted to use their talents to honor God, including by producing wedding videos promoting marriage as a “sacrificial covenant between one man and one woman.”
Minnesota objected, saying the Larsens had to produce videos of same-sex weddings as well as opposite-sex weddings, or else produce none. But in Friday’s decision, Stras said the Larsens could try to show that Minnesota law interfered with their message “by requiring them to say something they otherwise would not.”
In my December 2016 initial report on this case, I noted that the Alliance Defending Freedom had recruited this couple to launch their business with the sole intention of overturning Minnesota’s anti-discrimination law. Their lawsuit was preemptively filed before they ever had any request to film a same-sex wedding. And probably, before they filmed any weddings at all.