December 15, 2016

Video Company Challenges Gay Marriage in Court






The owners of a video company have filed a legal challenge to Minnesota's gay marriage law because they want to shoot weddings for heterosexual couples only.
Carl and Angel Larsen said they will be punished for refusing wedding services to same-sex couples. The St. Cloud couple, who owns Telescope Media Group, filed a lawsuit against the state's human rightscommission and attorney general.
The couple's federal lawsuit has the backing of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal nonprofit organization, the Star Tribune ( http://strib.mn/2g9Z6wX ) reported.
The Larsens' lawsuit doesn't respond to specific allegations, but they are hoping to prevent future penalties.
While Minnesota's law doesn't compel religious organizations to perform same-sex marriages, it does ban businesses from denying wedding services, such as cake decorating, wedding planning or other commercial services.
State officials can deploy "testers" to investigate discrimination, and business owners who are determined liable can be found guilty of a misdemeanor offense punishable by fines and up to 90 days in jail.
Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said "any reasonable person" with the possibility of facing such punishments would follow in the Larsens' footsteps.
Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said the lawsuit is part of a pattern of litigation nationwide aimed at eroding the rights of the LGBTQ community.
In agreement was Teresa Nelson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, who said the lawsuit would open "the door to a vast array of discrimination . if the court sides with the plaintiffs."
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys also represent a group of parents and students from Virginia, Minnesota, in a federal lawsuit that seeks to bar high school transgender students from using locker rooms and restrooms consistent with their gender identity.
This week a federal judge suspended proceedings in the case until the U.S. Supreme Court issues an opinion or resolves a similar case being argued in Washington.
Minnesota's same-sex marriage law was enacted in 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the fundamental right to marriage is guaranteed to all.

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