Carl and Angel Larsen
Carl and Angel Larsen are Bible-believing Christians who place Christ at the center of everything in their life — their marriage, their home, their friendships, their service to the community, and their business. One of their deepest passions is marriage. They work hard to cultivate the bonds of love and commitment within their own marriage and help other couples strengthen their marriages as well. They often provide couples pre-marital counseling, they are always ready to roll up their sleeves and dig in to restore marriages in crisis, and Carl has even officiated two weddings.
The Larsens are deeply troubled by the current condition of marriage in our culture. Not only has it been redefined by the Supreme Court, but the governments across the country and other powerful cultural forces are punishing and marginalizing people who believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman. The Larsens felt a desire to do more, but what?
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 — of great story-telling — to change hearts and minds. They 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 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. Therefore, the Larsens have not publicly offered or provided their wedding film services, but they did create a wedding teaser video so that the court could see the kind of marriage stories they want to tell.
Fortunately, Americans don’t have to wait to be punished or thrown in jail before challenging unjust laws. Instead, they can file a pre-enforcement challenge, which is exactly what the Larsens have chosen to do. They have filed a lawsuit before entering the wedding field, seeking a court order that says Minnesota cannot threaten them with severe penalties and jail time 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.
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