Carl and Angel Larsen of Telescope Media Group. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)
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A district court ruled against the company two years ago
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that a Christian media company cannot be forced to produce videos for same-sex weddings under Minnesota state law, according to The Christian Post.
The ruling overturns a 2017 decision by a district court that said Telescope Media Group, owned by Carl and Angel Larsen, would be in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act by refusing to provide wedding video services on the basis of customers' sexuality.
Judge David Stras of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th District wrote in the court's opinion that the Minnesota law violated the Larsen's free speech rights.
"Indeed, if Minnesota were correct, there is no reason it would have to stop with the Larsens," Stras wrote. "In theory, it could use the MHRA to require a Muslim tattoo artist to inscribe 'My religion is the only true religion' on the body of a Christian if he or she would do the same for a fellow Muslim, or it could demand that an atheist musician perform at an evangelical church service. The district court also ruled that the Larsens could not seek relief on various other constitutional theories. We largely agree that these claims fail. But one — the free-exercise claim — can proceed because it is intertwined with their free-speech claim."
The Larsens were represented by Alliance Defending Freedom.
The district court had ruled that Telescope Media Group refusing to offer its services to same-sex couples was basically the same as posting a "white applicants only" sign. In the dissenting opinion, U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim wrote that there were other options for the Larsens besides refusing service.
"For example, the Larsens could post language on their website stating that while they follow applicable law, and thus serve couples regardless of protected status, they are opposed to same-sex marriage," Tunheim wrote.
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