Carl and Angel Larson (Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom)

Carl and Angel Larson (Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom)

A federal judge in Minnesota with a long history of Democratic Party activism has issued a ruling that effectively concludes the LGBT agenda trumps the First Amendment’s religious-rights protections.

Judge John Tunheim, appointed by former President Bill Clinton

Judge John Tunheim, appointed by former President Bill Clinton

John Tunheim, appointed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1995, ordered Wednesday that Christian videographers Carl and Angel Larsen, through their company, Telescope Media Group, must use their filmmaking talents to promote same-sex marriages if they produce films that celebrate marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Their lawyers announced immediately they will appeal the decision by Tunheim, who charged in his opinion that the Larsens’ faith-based objection to creating videos promoting same-sex relationships is “akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign.”

The ruling came in a case the Larsens brought against state officials over their enforcement of the Human Rights Act, which bars discrimination in the workplace on the basis of “sexual orientation.”

“Tolerance is a two-way street,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Creative professionals who engage in the expression of ideas shouldn’t be threatened with fines and jail simply for having a particular point of view about marriage that the government may not favor. Public officials can’t censor filmmakers or demand that they tell stories in film that violate their deepest convictions.

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

Tedesco said people “should have the freedom to disagree on critical matters of conscience, which is why everyone, regardless of their view of marriage, can support the Larsens.”

“The same government that can force them to violate their faith and conscience can force any one of us to do the same. That’s why we plan to appeal this ruling to the 8th Circuit,” he said.

ADF noted Minnesota Department of Human Rights officials have repeatedly stated that private businesses such as the Larsens’ violate the law if they decline to create expression promoting same-sex weddings.

Penalties for violation include payment of a civil penalty to the state; triple compensatory damages; punitive damages of up to $25,000; a criminal penalty of up to $1,000; and up to 90 days in jail.

The judge, however, claimed the anti-discrimination law is “neutral,” so the filmmakers must abide by the state’s mandate.

The ruling may not have a long shelf life.

John Tunheim, 2nd from right in front row.

John Tunheim, 2nd from right in front row.

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule in the coming months on in the case of Colorado cake-maker Jack Phillips. He declined to promote homosexuality with his cake artistry and was ordered by a biased state commission – one member likened him to a Nazi – to undergo a state-mandated re-indoctrination program.

Tunheim’s biography reveals a long list of left-wing activities, including work as a staff assistant to Sen. Hubert Humphrey, the investment of a “significant amount of time and effort” to help the United Nations program setting up a judicial system in Kosovo and his role as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention twice.

In a statement provided by their attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom, the Larsens contend their business “exists to tell great stories that honor God.”

It also points out the couple is expanding into wedding video services to “reanimate the hearts and minds of people about the goodness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

But the state of Minnesota and Tunheim say they must subjugate their faith to the state’s definition of marriage, even if it contradicts the Bible.

“The law bars discrimination on a whole bunch of different categories, and the state has added sexual orientation to the law. But [the state] has also announced that it interprets the law to require people in the wedding industry to promote concepts of marriage, including same-sex marriage, that they disagree with, even if that violate their religious beliefs,” Tedesco explained.

“The state has put that on official websites. They’ve announced that in various different places. They’ve basically put people on notice. They’re looking out for faithful Christians in the wedding industry, and they’re going to prosecute them if they act in a manner that’s consistent with their beliefs when it comes to marriage,” he said.

Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Jeremy Tedesco:

Tedesco said a pre-emptive lawsuit was clearly needed.

“No one in their right mind – when 90 days in jail is on the line and the state is saying the exercise of your First Amendment rights could wind you up in jail – is going to exercise their rights. They chilled their expression. They go to court to try to get a judgment from the court before that even happens,” Tedesco said.

“Rather than take that risk, Carl and Angel filed a lawsuit to try to get the court to say that it was unlawful for the state to even apply the law to force them to say things they don’t want to say through their films,” he said.

Tedesco said the Minnesota Human Rights Act is a blatant violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“These kind of pre-enforcement challenges are something that’s been used for years in the civil rights context,” he said.

Watch the Larsens’ story:

It was during the last five years of the Obama administration that instances of hostility to religion across America surged 133 percent, said a report that documents more than 1,400 incidents ranging from the Obamacare attacks on faithful Christians to various prison restrictions on Muslims and Sikhs.

Critics say it shouldn’t be a surprise, since the former president claimed the United States never was a “Christian nation.”

WND reported that, during the last year of Obama’s administration, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights under his direction lamented how many restrictions there were on the government’s ability to restrict the impact of religious beliefs.

At that time, the agency’s report, “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties,” got immediately to the point.

In the first of 306 pages, the “letter of transmittal” to Obama stated, “Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights.”

It said the fault lies with the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which “constricts the ability of government actors to curtail private citizens’ rights to the protections of nondiscrimination laws and policies.”

“Although the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act … limit the ability of government actors to impede individuals from practicing their religious beliefs, religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws and policies must be weighed carefully and defined narrowly on a fact-specific basis,” states the letter.

Tunheim wrote that he “finds there is no constitutional problem” with the state’s restrictions on the Larsens’ speech.

He described the wedding videos the couple produces as “speech-for-hire” and said the First Amendment does not protect them.

“The court recognizes that the application of the MRHA to expressive businesses may at certain limited times burden the business’s exercise of free expression, and the case at hand is one such situaton,” he explained.

He claimed the state’s speech restrictions do not “target speech or expression at all.”

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

 

 

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.