Court Rules for Wedding Photographer in Suit Over Services for Same-Sex Couples
Aug 20, 2020
According to attorneys for a Louisville wedding photographer and blogger, a federal district court has issued an injunction prohibiting the city of Louisville from enforcing an ordinance against their client that would require her to promote same-sex wedding ceremonies if she chose to photograph weddings of heterosexual couples. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys who represent Chelsey Nelson said the court has also denied a request by the city to throw out the lawsuit.
Judge Rules in Favor of Photographer: Gov’t Can’t Compel Speech When It Violates an Artist’s Religious Principles
Nelson sued the city of Louisville in November of 2019, claiming that it’s Fairness Ordinance violated her constitutional right of free speech by making it illegal for her to refuse services for same-sex weddings. Nelson also claimed that the ordinance made it illegal for her to explain her beliefs against same-sex marriage on her company website as the words themselves, as speech, would be deemed under the ordinance as denying services to same-sex couples because of their sexual orientation.
In the injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Justin Walker held that photography is protected speech under the First Amendment, but added the ordinance can still apply to other businesses like restaurants and hotels. “Just as gay and lesbian Americans 'cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,' neither can Americans ‘with a deep faith that requires them to do things passing legislative majorities might find unseemly or uncouth.’ ‘They are members of the community too,’” wrote the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. In his opinion Judge Walker stated, “Courts must navigate these difficult issues without imposing indignities on religious believers when they engage in expressive conduct and ‘without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.'”
The city has not indicated whether it will appeal the injunction or immediately proceed a hearing on the merits of the case.
Judge blocks enforcement of Fairness law against photographer who opposes same-sex weddings
Court halts city’s efforts to force KY photographer, blogger to promote same-sex weddings