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Religious business owners sue: they don't want to film gay weddings

Carl and Angel Larsen don't want to film gay weddings.
Photo credit:
Peacock Panache

Videographers Carl and Angel Larsen do not want to film LGBT weddings and have filed a lawsuit in federal court against Minnesota’s commissioner of human rights, Kevin Lindsey, and attorney general, Lori Swanson.

The couple, who own Minnesota's Telescope Media Group, only want to document straight weddings.

They say their religious beliefs frown upon same-sex marriage and they don’t feel they should be legally reprimanded should they refuse to film one.

In the complaint, it states the Larsens, “believe that many see marriage as a punch line for jokes, a means for personal gratification, an arrangement of convenience, or a method of achieving social status.”

It continues to say they “are Christians who believe that God has called them to use their talents and their company to create media productions that honor God.”

The Larsen's fear that the country is turning its back on, “historic, biblically-orthodox definition of marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman, and that more and more people are accepting the view that same-sex marriage is equivalent to one-man, one-woman marriage.”

According to Minnesota law, the Larsens are legally required to film same-sex weddings as a part of the Human Rights Act. Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage in 2013. 

The Star Tribune reports that the non-profit Christian legal team Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has taken on their case.

They say in a statement, “The Larsens know the power of film — of great story-telling — to change hearts and minds. They want to use their wedding cinematography to reanimate the hearts and minds of people about the goodness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

There have been no specific instances where the couple has refused service to an LGBT client, but they say they want to expand into the wedding market, but don’t want to film events that are outside of their religious beliefs.

The lawsuit is a, “pre-enforcement challenge,” according to the ADF.

This has some advocates concerned for the future of businesses refusing service to people who don’t fall into their spectrum of personal bias, even though the law says they must. 

“This could open a real wide door to people citing religion in turning away customers they don’t like,” said Teresa Nelson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. “It opens the door to a vast array of discrimination … if the court sides with the plaintiffs.