ADF suing NY on behalf of Christian photographer

Friday, April 9, 2021
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

gavel with Bible 2A photographer in New York state wants to operate her business according to her faith but is facing prohibition on free speech and a jail cell, and is waiting on the day the state tries to trap her. 

Emilee Carpenter filed suit in federal court Tuesday against New York and against county officials. The lawsuit challenges state laws that force Carpenter to create photographs and blogs celebrating same-sex weddings if she does so for weddings between one man and one woman.

Bryan Neihart, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm representing Carpenter, says maximum penalties for violating the state law include fines up to $100,000, a revoked business license, and even a year in jail.

Emilee Carpenter Photography v. James was filed in United States District Court for the Western District of New York.

"One of the especially egregious parts of New York's law is that it not only compels Emilee to create photographs that violate her beliefs,” Neihart says, “but it actually prohibits Emilee from explaining her religious beliefs about marriage on her website or directly to perspective clients.”

That prohibition, which is itself ripe for a First Amendment challenge, combined with the huge fine and jail time means New York is barring a business owner from stating her personal religious beliefs and can use the same state law to put her behind bars.

The state law has been used to punish other Christian business owners, Neihart advises, and Carpenter herself has received requests from same-sex couples to photograph their wedding ceremonies.

It is also known, the ADF attorney adds, that the state government can send “testers” into a store – much like using teens attempting to buy beer – and then trap a business owner who violates the law.

The lawsuit is asking to court to stop New York from enforcing the law while the case moves forward.

Neihart experts ADF to appear before a judge on behalf of Carpenter by the summer.

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