Carl and Angel Larsen are Bible-believing Christians who place Christ at the center of everything in their life, including their business. As owners of Telescope Media Group (“TMG”), a video and film production company that exists to tell great stories that honor God, the Larsens know the power of film to change hearts and minds.
Because they are passionate about marriage, the Larsens want to use their wedding cinematography to reanimate the hearts and minds of people about the goodness of marriage between a man and a woman. But the Larsens desire to enter the wedding cinematography field has hit a huge obstacle — a speech coercing state law. According to Minnesota officials, the State’s Human Rights Act mandates that if the Larsens make films celebrating marriage between one man and one woman, then they must make films celebrating same-sex marriages as well. State officials have categorically, publicly, and repeatedly threatened to prosecute expressive business owners who decline to create speech promoting same-sex marriages. And there are steep penalties for violating the law, including payment of a civil penalty to the state, triple compensatory damages, punitive damages up to $25,000, and even up to 90 days in jail.
The Larsens can’t comply with Minnesota’s speech-compelling law. Telling stories that celebrate a same-sex marriage would violate their religious beliefs and directly contradict the very message about marriage they desire to express. But they also don’t want to be investigated, prosecuted, and possibly jailed simply for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Rather than wait to be punished or thrown in jail due to this unjust law, the Larsens have chosen to file a pre-enforcement challenge. This means they filed a lawsuit before entering the wedding field, seeking a court order that says Minnesota cannot apply the law’s severe penalties against them if they exercise their First Amendment right to decline to promote a message with which they disagree. Until they get a favorable ruling, the Larsens are refraining from making wedding films and muzzling their speech about God’s design for marriage to avoid the severe penalties for violating Minnesota’s law.
What's at stake
The freedom of creative professionals to control their own speech without facing unjust punishment at the hands of government.
Whether the government can force creative professionals to promote messages that violate their core beliefs.
The right of creative professionals to be treated equally under the law regardless of the popularity of their views.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom serves as lead counsel for Telescope Media Group free of charge.
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