MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — A Minnesota couple who operates a video production company have filed a pre-enforcement challenge over concerns that state law mandates them to create films in support of same-sex “marriage” if they also produce videos that reflect their Christian beliefs about marriage.
Carl and Angel Larsen run the Telescope Media Group, which has produced videos for a number of prominent evangelical ministries. The couple, being concerned about the societal drift from God’s plan for marriage, would like to tell stories with their filmmaking skills to “impact religious, social, and cultural views about marriage by creating compelling stories celebrating God’s design for the institution.”
Their desired films will capture actual footage of weddings and will be used both as keepsakes for the couples and to reach global audiences.
However, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has outlined that businesses, religious or not, can’t decline services related to homosexuality.
“The law does not exempt individuals, businesses, nonprofits, or the secular business activities of religious entities from non-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage,” it outlines on its website. “Therefore, a business that provides wedding services such as cake decorating, wedding planning or catering services may not deny services to a same-sex couple based on their sexual orientation.”
The department reportedly sends out “testers” in cases where a complaint has been issued, who pose as someone wanting the service.
Because of the law is interpreted, the Larsens are concerned that they will be required to also produce films featuring same-sex ceremonies if they create professional videos on marriage in general.
“Among other things, the Larsens will decline any request to design and create media productions 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,” their legal complaint outlines.
“It would violate Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs and conflict with their message about marriage to force them to tell the story through film of any marriage that conflicts with their religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman, such as a same-sex marriage,” it states.
The couple does not feel free to move forward with their desired project, which entails choosing which clients they wish to record, since violators can face hefty fines and even jail time.
“Plaintiffs currently suffer the ongoing harm of self-censorship of their desired, protected expressive association, in order to avoid prosecution under Minnesota Statutes Annotated §363A.11(1) and § 363A.17(3),” their lawsuit outlines.
However, the Larsens believe that videos are protected under the First Amendment, and that those whose businesses involve creations that are a form of free speech should not be compelled to produce art or issue speech that violates their conscience.
“Plaintiffs’ production of films telling the stories of marriages between one man and one woman, and their decision to decline to produce films promoting any other conception of marriage, are protected by the First Amendment,” the complaint contends. “The First Amendment prevents the government from compelling people to create, express, support, or promote a message not of their own choosing or to speak when they would rather remain silent.”
They are therefore seeking an injunction against the law and a declaration that the statutes, as applied to their business, are unconstitutional.