A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed the case of Minnesota wedding videographers fighting for their right to deny service to same-sex customers.
In his ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim said the language on the couple’s website, which stated that the videographers would not shoot wedding videos for same-sex couples, 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, according to the Star-Tribune.
“As conduct carried out through language, this act is not protected by the First Amendment."
Carl and Angel Larsen filed a lawsuit in December 2016, alleging that a provision in Minnesota’s Human Right Act, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, denied them their artistic and religious freedom.
The Minneapolis couple owns a videography company and wanted to post language on their website stating that they would not shoot wedding footage for same-sex couples, as it would violate their Christian beliefs.
“My wife and I are tethered by a short creative leash,” Carl Larsen wrote in a piece for the Star-Tribune last year. “The Department of Human Rights’ aggressive endorsement of state-mandated political correctness means we can’t enter the marriage field and operate according to our religious beliefs about marriage without being in violation of the law.”
Jeremy Tedesco, an attorney from the conservative Christian group The Alliance Defending Freedom that is defending the couple, said his group is planning to appeal the case.
"Tolerance is a two-way street," Tedesco said in a statement. "Creative professionals who engage in the expression of ideas shouldn't be threatened with fines and jail simply for having a particular point of view about marriage that the government may not favor."
The Supreme Court will address a similar issue this fall, when the court hears the case of Jack Phillips, a baker who is challenging a Colorado statute that he said violates his freedoms of speech and religion by requiring him to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The Alliance Defending Freedom is also representing Phillips.