Yesterday, a district court in Minnesota ruled against our clients Carl and Angel Larsen, dismissing their lawsuit challenging a state law that would force them to create films that portray a message that contradicts their faith.
While this ruling is disappointing, it is not the end. We will appeal.
Carl and Angel Larsen own Telescope Media Group, a film production company that seeks to “magnify Christ like a telescope.”
While they have done many films for Christian organizations, they are looking to expand the type of work they do. Because Carl and Angel are passionate about marriage, they feel called to film stories that show the beauty and meaning behind marriage as God designed it – a lifelong union between one man and one woman.
However, a Minnesota law requires that, if the Larsens film these types of wedding stories, they must also film same-sex weddings.
The Larsens have been married for 15 years and have counseled many couples at every stage of marriage. Their hope is to show how God made marriage something unique and special, a representation of the Gospel and God’s relationship to his church.
Carl and Angel cannot compromise on this belief.
But the government wants to use this law to force them to speak a message that contradicts both their faith and the very reason they want to enter the wedding industry – to proclaim biblical truth about marriage through film. If the Larsens don’t comply, they face steep fines and even jail time. In the meantime, they’ve decided to censor their own speech by avoiding the wedding industry altogether.
Does that sound like free speech to you?
Unfortunately, the Larsens still have to tiptoe around the law, as the court refused to halt its enforcement while their case moves forward.
“Tolerance is a two-way street. Creative professionals who engage in the expression of ideas shouldn’t be threatened with fines and jail simply for having a particular point of view about marriage that the government may not favor,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Public officials can’t censor filmmakers or demand that they tell stories in film that violate their deepest convictions.”
There is a clear double standard here.
Creative professionals across the country are being told they must speak messages that contradict their faith, or face the consequences. Yet, there seems to be a lot of confusion over who has the right to decline certain projects. The Left didn’t bat an eye when fashion designer Sophie Theallet declared she would not dress First Lady Melania Trump.
The government should never force creative professionals – or anyone for that matter – to use their artistic talents to promote a message that conflicts with their beliefs.