A federal district court halted the enforcement of a Louisville city ordinance that would have forced a wedding photographer to promote same-sex weddings on her platforms.
Chelsey Nelson sued Louisville city officials in November, arguing that the city’s ordinance violated the First Amendment. The ordinance would have forced her to service same-sex weddings because she photographs weddings between one man and one woman regularly.
Nelson explained on her website that the reason she does not photograph same-sex weddings is because she “can’t photograph anything that conflicts with my religious conviction that marriage is a covenant relationship before God between one man and one woman,” according to court records.
But Nelson was told by the city that such “communication” is akin to sexual discrimination.
The U.S. District Court of the Western District of Kentucky, however, dismissed the city’s argument and said that because Nelson has the right to control what her art does and does not support.
“Just as gay and lesbian Americans ‘cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,’ neither can Americans ‘with a deep faith that requires them to do things passing legislative majorities might find unseemly or uncouth,’” the court ruled.
“And under our Constitution, the government can’t force them to march for, or salute in favor of, or create an artistic expression that celebrates, a marriage that their conscience doesn’t condone,” it continued. “America is wide enough for those who applaud same-sex marriage and those who refuse to.”
The court also said that Nelson is likely to win her case if the city tries to appeal. The Justice Department said the same back in February when it filed a statement of interest with Nelson’s lawsuit.
“Forcing a photographer, against her conscience, to express her support for a wedding that her faith opposes violates the Constitution,” the DOJ said in a statement.