Lawyers for Christian wedding videographers Carl and Angel Larsen of St. Cloud, Minn., argued their case for religious liberty last week before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Larsens, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), are suing Minnesota’s Human Rights Commission over its Human Rights Act, claiming it would penalize them for making films that are in line with their convictions on marriage. U.S. District Judge John Tunheim initially dismissed their case.
The Larsens started their videography business in 2008 but hadn’t launched any wedding-related services specifically because of the law, which would require them to make videos supporting same-sex marriage as well as ones promoting Biblical marriage, according to ADF. If found in violation of the law, the Larsens could face payment of a civil penalty to the state, triple compensatory damages, punitive damages, and up to 90 days in jail.
“When I heard about the law that was passed in Minnesota, I was deeply concerned because I wanted to be able to tell stories that are consistent with the mission of our business,” Carl Larsen said in a video released by ADF about the case.
ADF attorneys have filed a handful of preemptive cases on behalf of clients trying to establish an exception to their states’ sexual orientation and gender identity laws before venturing into a wedding services business. By suing the states, business owners hope to avoid the financial burden and potential loss of business that could come with being sued for refusing to provide services for a same-sex wedding on religious grounds. —Rachel Lynn Aldrich