A Minnesota couple argued Tuesday before an appellate court that a state law requiring them, as filmmakers, to make videos for same-sex couples violates their religious freedom rights.
Videographers Carl and Angel Larsen, the Christian couple behind Telescope Media Group, initially took their case to court in 2017, but it was ultimately dismissed in September of that year, according to the Star Tribune.
At the time, Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim dismissed their lawsuit, likening the Larsens’ plan to post a notice on their website about their refusal to offer services for same-sex weddings to a “White Applicants Only” sign.
Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm, the Larsens appealed Tunheim’s decision, arguing before a panel of judges — Jane Kelly, Bobby E. Shepherd and David R. Stras — that their freedom of speech and expression is violated by Minnesota law.
“The creation of films is pure speech, it’s fully protected by the First Amendment,” the couple’s lawyer, Jeremy Tedesco, told the judges, MPR News reported. “So what the state proposes to do under these limited circumstances is force someone to express a message they disagree with about marriage.”
He went on to note the Larsens’ case is “very important” because it could determine whether the government can “force people to promote ideas about marriage that violate their beliefs.”
Kevin Lindsey, the state’s human rights commissioner, disagreed with Tedesco. Instead, the commissioner argued, “Conduct matters, and that when you are selling goods and services, you should sell goods and services to all people in the state of Minnesota.”
The panel of judges told the Christian couple they would have an answer within the next couple of months.