Minnesota Judge Kicks Lawsuit By Wedding Videographers Who Wanted Only Straight Clients

Minnesota Judge Kicks Lawsuit By Wedding Videographers Who Wanted Only Straight Clients
Angel and Carl Larsen

A Minnesota couple wants to go into the wedding video business, but don’t want anything to do with gay or lesbian weddings due to their deeply held religious beliefs.

In fact, they took the extraordinary pre-emptive step of suing the state over Minnesota’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, saying the law was “unconstitutional.”

Mind you, the couple didn’t even have any gay or lesbian customers.

From the Star Tribune:

In a 63-page ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim wrote that a provision of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) prohibiting discrimination by businesses was not unconstitutional. Tunheim rejected the couple’s argument that the law amounted to “a state effort to stamp out expression opposing same-sex marriage.”

Carl and Angel Larsen sued the state’s commissioner of human rights and attorney general in December in an pre-emptive effort to avoid penalties for turning away same-sex customers.

The Larsens, who use their Telescope Media Group to promote their Christian beliefs, want to go into the wedding film business, but serve only heterosexual couples.

The Larsens had wanted to post a notice on their website saying that they serve heterosexual couples only but the judge was not having it and kicked the lawsuit to the curb.

Judge Tunheim said that was “akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign.”

“Posting language on a website telling potential customers that a business will discriminate based on sexual orientation is part of the act of sexual orientation discrimination itself,” Tunheim wrote. “As conduct carried out through language, this act is not protected by the First Amendment.”

Judge Tunheim suggested that the plaintiffs post language on their site expressing opposition to same-sex marriage, but not say they wouldn’t serve gays.

Expect these folks to appeal the ruling to the 8th Circuit. Bet on it.