Judge Says City Cannot Force Photographer to Work Same-Sex Weddings

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A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction, finding the City of Louisville, KY, cannot force a Christian photographer to work same-sex weddings if it violates sincerely held religious beliefs.

Last year photographer Chelsey Nelson, a Christian, sued the city after an anti-discrimination law passed. The law ostensibly requires her to work same-sex weddings even if it would violate her First Amendment rights.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Justin Walker agreed that such a compulsion would be a violation of First Amendment rights. He issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the city from enforcing the law against Nelson in her work both as a photographer and as a blogger.

Walker noted that Nelson will likely prevail in her lawsuit.

“America is wide enough for those who applaud same-sex marriage and those who refuse to. The Constitution does not require a choice between gay rights and freedom of speech. It demands both …

“Forcing citizens to express ideas ‘contrary to their deepest convictions’ is ‘always demeaning.’ It doesn’t matter if most people agree with the expression the government compels. Free thought ‘includes both the right to speak freely’ and to say nothing at all …

“[The City of Louisville] is attempting to compel religious speech at the core of the First Amendment.”

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