John Stonestreet and David Carlson on Why Carl and Angel Larsen’s Legal Victory is a Win for Free Speech and Conscience Rights

Carl and Angel Larsen, the couple who owns the Minnesota-based Telescope Media Group. In Dec. 2016, the Larsens filed suit against a state law that would compel them to film same-sex wedding ceremonies despite their religious objections. | (Screenshot:YouTube/Alliance Defending Freedom)

I’m no lawyer. Typically, I have to rely on those in our Colson Center orbit trained in law to help me interpret the legalese in a judge’s decision, but even I can understand the straightforward and sweeping language of Circuit Court Judge David Stras.

“Carl and Angel Larsen wish to make wedding videos,” Judge Stras wrote. “Can Minnesota require them to produce videos of same-sex weddings, even if the message would conflict with their own beliefs? The district court concluded that it could and dismissed the Larsens’ constitutional challenge to Minnesota’s antidiscrimination law. [But] Because the First Amendment allows the Larsens to choose when to speak and what to say,” we reverse their decision.

How’s that for judicial clarity?

Because this is such an important case, I want to give you the background. And again, because of its clarity, I’ll use language from the ruling itself. The Larsens create “commercials, short films, and live-event productions.”  While they do business with anyone regardless of race, sex, gender, etc., they will not create videos that “contradict biblical truth; promote sexual immorality; support the destruction of unborn children; promote racism or racial division; incite violence; degrade women; or promote any conception of marriage other than as a lifelong institution between one man and one woman.”

You can guess which of those areas created problems for them. As Judge Stras’ decision put it, “The Larsens now wish to make films that promote their view of marriage as a ‘sacrificial covenant between one man and one woman.’”

According to the state of Minnesota, they can only do that if they will also, if asked, produce videos that paint same-sex marriage in a positive light. Otherwise, they would run afoul of the state’s anti-discrimination act and be subject to fines and even jail time.

The Larsens, with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, issued what’s called “a pre-enforcement challenge.” When a district court ruled against the Larsens, they appealed to the Eighth Circuit and prevailed.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and David Carlson