Christian video production company WINS, appeals court rules

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Carl Larsen, owner and founder, Telescope Media Group

A Christian husband and wife team who own a video production company were handed a victory last Friday when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in their favor challenging a Minnesota law that would require them to film gay weddings.

Carl and Angel Larsen own Telescope Media Group which advertises itself as a business that “exists to glorify God through top-quality media production.” In 2016 they filed a lawsuit opposing the Minnesota Human Rights Act that had the potential of forcing them to film and promote same-sex marriages.

The legal strategy is known as a “pre-enforcement challenge,” which allows citizens to challenge a law that threatens their rights before the government enforces it against them.

In September 2017, U.S. District Judge John Tunheim dismissed their case finding that their policy of promoting marriage as a bond between and man and a woman was akin to posting a sign that said “white applicants only.”

That decision was reversed when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Larsens have a First Amendment Right “to choose when to speak and what to say.”

“Even antidiscrimination laws, as critically important as they are, must yield to the Constitution,” U.S. Circuit Judge David Stras wrote for the majority. “And as compelling as the interest in preventing discriminatory conduct may be, speech is treated differently under the First Amendment.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the Larsens, praised the decision.

“This is a significant win. The government shouldn’t threaten filmmakers with fines and jail time to force them to create films that violate their beliefs,” said ADF senior counsel Jeremy Tedesco.

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