In a lawsuit akin to the Christian baker who didn’t want to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, bigoted Christian videographers had their day in an appellate court yesterday — and they were defended by the same legal group that argued the baker’s case.
This case involves Carl and Angel Larsen, Christians who sued Minnesota’s human rights commissioner in 2016. They argue that treating customers equally is a violation of their religious beliefs, and while they want to expand into offering wedding services, they claim they can’t do that if the law requires them to treat gay couples the same way as straight ones. It’s an argument that didn’t go over well with the district judge, who saw right through their faith excuse and understood the underlying hate.
Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim dismissed their lawsuit in September 2017. In his ruling, he called the Larsens’ plan to post a notice on their website that they would deny services to same-sex couples “conduct akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign,” and that it would be an act of discrimination not protected by the First Amendment.
Tunheim’s logic was simple: If your business creates wedding videos, you can’t discriminate against a same-sex couple for the same reason you can’t say no to an interracial wedding. It’s bigotry, plain and simple. Even if Jesus gives you permission.
The Larsens and their lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom appealed the decision and made their case to a three-judge panel yesterday. If ADF was hoping to defend the Larsens using their victory in the Christian baker case, they were out of luck since Jack Phillips only won his case on a technicality. The Supreme Court still hasn’t decided if religious beliefs ought to override anti-discrimination laws in the public sphere.
The judges include appointees of Donald Trump, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. No matter how they rule, though, ADF is surely itching to take this case to the newly conservative Supreme Court, hoping to get the victory they didn’t achieve in Masterpiece Cakeshop.
Maybe the most disingenuous aspect about this whole case is what the Larsens said to the media after the oral arguments:
Larsen said he and his wife have worked “with many LGBT people on our film projects. We benefit from their creativity, their friendship and their business.”
“Our ability to laugh, dialogue and work together gives us great hope that our nation can transcend political and cultural disagreements that so easily fracture our communities,” he said. “But the Minnesota government is attempting to destroy that hope.”
See? They love gay people! They just don’t want to catch the cooties that gay couples release during wedding ceremonies because Jesus would die a second death. (It’s in the Bible somewhere.) In the meantime, local reporters should get in touch with these LGBT people who worked with the Larsens and get their opinions on the current lawsuit. That, I’m sure, would be fascinating.
(Image via Shutterstock)