Owners of a video production company have filed suit against a Minnesota law they say could punish them if they decline to film a same-sex “wedding” ceremony or to state their objections in promotional materials.
“Filmmakers shouldn’t be threatened with fines and jail simply for
disagreeing with the government,” said attorney Jeremy Tedesco, senior
counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal group supporting
“Every American – including creative professionals – should be
free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear
Carl and Angel Larsen run the St. Cloud, Minn. video production
company Telescope Media Group.
They said they aim to enter the wedding
business but want to be clear on their website and other promotional
materials that their company “cannot make films promoting any conception
of marriage that contradicts its religious beliefs that marriage is
between one man and one woman, including films celebrating same-sex
They said current law would compel them to produce videos “promoting a
conception of marriage that directly contradicts their religious
Minnesota law bars the denial of wedding services like cake
decorating, wedding planning, or other commercial activities by
“individuals, nonprofits or the secular business activities of religious
entities,” the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says.
Penalties for violating the law include payment of a civil fine,
triple compensatory damages, punitive damages up to $25,000, a criminal
penalty of up to $1,000 and a possible 90 days in jail.
State officials can use “testers” who pose as potential customers to
investigate discrimination complaints. The tactic in 2014 resulted in a
settlement with a venue that was accused of refusing to host a same-sex
Defenders of the couple characterized the matter as a question of artistic freedom.
“The Larsens can’t publicly depict stories about the exclusive
benefits of marriages between one man and one woman because Minnesota
officials have categorically stated that conducting business in this way
would violate the law,” charged Caleb Dalton, legal counsel with
Alliance Defending Freedom.
“The problem with this is that the government must allow artists the
freedom to make personal decisions about what content they will create
and what content they won’t create.”
The Larsens’ lawsuit says they would also decline to convey messages
promoting racism or racial division, sexual immorality, the degradation
of women or the destruction of unborn children.