- The Washington Times - Friday, October 4, 2019

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says he will fight two filmmakers who cite their Christian beliefs in declining to film gay weddings in a lower court instead of taking it to the Supreme Court, saying he fears the high court’s conservative majority.

“We could have appealed the 8th Circuit’s divided decision to the Supreme Court, but with the limited facts currently on record and the current composition of the court, that’s what Telescope and the extremist legal-advocacy group representing them want us to do,” Mr. Ellison and Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said Wednesday. “Instead, we’re taking the case back to federal district court, where we can establish a set of actual facts that are based in reality, not the fairy tale that Telescope is trying to tell.”

Carl and Angel Larsen of St. Cloud own Telescope Media Group, a Christian video company that creates commemorative videos for weddings. They filed suit in 2017 seeking an injunction against a Minnesota law they say would force them to violate their Christian opposition to same-sex marriages. They fear their refusal to film LGBTQ weddings would leave them liable for a discrimination claim under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

In August, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated their lawsuit previously thrown out by a federal judge. On Thursday, the Larsens’ legal team, Alliance Defending Freedom, released a statement regarding Mr. Ellison’s legal strategy.

“Carl and Angel are pleased that they will soon be able to enter the marriage industry and produce films that are consistent with their beliefs,” said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We look forward to securing a final victory that prevents the state from using its power to banish people of faith from the public square.”

Mr. Tedesco said Minnesota’s human rights statute would protect atheist musicians from feeling compelled to play a church service.

In the 8th Circuit opinion accompanying the 2-1 ruling, Judge David Stras, a Trump appointee, wrote “the First Amendment allows the Larsens to choose when to speak and what to say.”

• Christopher Vondracek can be reached at cvondracek@washingtontimes.com.

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