Will wedding photographer break losing streak?

Monday, August 10, 2020
 | 
Chris Woodward, Billy Davis (OneNewsNow.com)

natural marriageA business owner in Kentucky is asking a federal court to rule on her First Amendment demand to operate according to her religious beliefs but similar rulings in recent years have not favored Bible-believing Christians. 

Wedding photographer Chelsey Nelson filed suit late last year against the City of Louisville to challenge the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. That law protects homosexuals, lesbians, and transgenders, offering them legal protection that conflicts with Nelson’s biblical beliefs about marriage and sexuality.

With help from Alliance Defending Freedom, Nelson filed a pre-enforcement challenge against Louisville and Jefferson County instead of waiting for someone to file a complaint against her, says ADF attorney Kate Anderson.

gavel with Bible 2"If the government has the power to force her to violate her convictions,” Anderson warns, “it can do the same thing to other people…”

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, where ADF asked the court last week to allow Nelson to operate her business without fear of prosecution as the case moves through the federal court system.

“We usually see rulings in those cases within a few months, maybe even sooner, so we're hoping the court will rule quickly,” Anderson advises. “And then we'll see what comes after that."

Court says 'price of citizenship'

Nelson’s case mirrors numerous other Christian business owners who were punished for adhering to biblical beliefs that run counter to pro-homosexual laws and ordinances. Many of those business owners have repeatedly lost in court, however, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused in 2014 to take the case of Elaine Huguenin, a New Mexico wedding photographer who turned down a request from two lesbians to photograph their wedding.

LGBT rainbow flagIn a case dating back to 2006, Huguenin was asked via email if she was “open” to helping the couple “celebrate our day,” but she was not because of her religious beliefs. The photographer was turned in to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, and the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Huguenin must be willing to “compromise” her religious beliefs as a “price of citizenship.”

A law professor’s legal column that applauded the state court’s ruling compared Huguenin’s claim of “forced speech” to a business owner selling coffee and being required to sell it to everyone. That column also complained that one of the justices, who ruled against Huguenin, sympathized with her religious beliefs and stated that the business owner wants to be “left alone” to operate the business according to her moral beliefs.

Blaine AdamsonIn a more promising court case, also in Kentucky, print shop owner Blaine Adamson (pictured at right) won a lawsuit filed by a homosexual group after he refused to design t-shirts for a “pride” event. In a 2019 ruling, the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed that Adamson did not turn down the customers because they are homosexuals but refused to use his business, Hands on Originals, to create a product he objects to. Adamson was able to point to other orders he had turned away, too. 

After a complaint was filed in 2014, Adamson was instructed by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission to print the t-shirts but he refused to do so.

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