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Minnesota Has Stake in Wedding Cake Case

Supporters of same sex marriage rallied in St. Paul in July 2010. (Fibonacci Blue/FlickR)
Supporters of same sex marriage rallied in St. Paul in July 2010. (Fibonacci Blue/FlickR)
December 6, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A federal district court already has ruled that a Minnesota filmmaker may not violate the state's human rights law by refusing to film gay weddings.

Carl and Angel Larsen, who own Telescope Media in St. Cloud, have argued in court that a state law barring discrimination violates their constitutional right to free expression.

"Telescope Media Group exists to glorify God through top quality media production,” Carl Larsen says in a video produced by Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF. “I want to tell marriage stories. I want to tell stories about the glory of God in marriage."

Larsen and his wife Angel have appealed the ruling against their company, but Minnesota officials argue the case should wait to see what the U.S. Supreme Court decides.

The high court heard arguments Tuesday in a case filed by a gay couple in Colorado who were refused service by a wedding cake baker.

In Alliance Defending Freedom videos, attorney Jeremy Tedesco says both the Colorado baker and the Minnesota videographer have the right to express themselves in their work.

"The Minnesota Human Rights Department has said that state law requires them to create films celebrating same sex marriages if they create films celebrating marriage between a man and a woman,” Tedesco points out. “And that's something that violates Carl and Angel's beliefs.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has sided in the case with Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group.

Minnesota is among 20 states that have filed friend-of-the-court briefs on the other side.

Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey says all those states ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"What would stop someone from saying on the basis of my religious beliefs, 'I don't wish to work with this woman' or 'I don't wish to sell to this man because he's of a different religious belief,'” he points out. “It really could lead to an erosion of civil rights for everyone."

Lindsey says he doesn't have any idea what the Supreme Court will do. A decision is not expected until late spring.

Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN