Wedding photographer Emilee Carpenter is appealing a New York federal judge’s decision that her attorneys say compels the evangelical Christian to create photo exhibits for same-sex weddings.
“It’s about free speech. And I believe all artists should be free to choose the messages they promote,” Ms Carpenter, 27, told The Washington Times.
Attorneys for the public interest law firm Alliance Defending Freedom told the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on Wednesday that they would appeal a December ruling by Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr., appointed by Obama.
Ms Carpenter had filed a preemptive challenge to the state’s Public Accommodations Act, which requires business owners not to discriminate in the provision of services or face up to a year in jail, $100,000 $ and revocation of trade licenses.
Judge Geraci ruled that under state law, Ms. Carpenter must create photography and blogging for same-sex couples if she also does wedding photography for heterosexual couples. He said his “unique artistic style and vision” is what a customer might want and that exempting him from serving LGBT consumers on religious grounds would “relegate” those shoppers “to a lower market”.
Judge Geraci also ruled that the state could prohibit Ms. Carpenter from posting an explanation of her company’s wedding photography policies on her company’s website.
The judge cited the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit against Colorado wedding website creator Lorie Smith, who had filed a similar preemptive challenge against public accommodations laws l ‘last year.
Ms Smith, who is also represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal the 10th Circuit ruling and a High Court decision could come as soon as Friday, a lawyer said. .
ADF legal counsel Jake Warner said the New York law “is particularly unique. It has what we would call a publication ban. And that prohibits Emilee from expressing any message that might make one of her clients feel unwelcome in her photography. In our view, this prohibits Emilee from publicly discussing her religious beliefs on her website.
“The First Amendment prohibits the government from forcing anyone to express a message that goes against their deepest beliefs. The Supreme Court has long held this principle to be true, but the 10th Circuit and now this District Court of New York is trying to undermine that basic freedom and it’s bad for all Americans,” Warner said.
Ms Carpenter said much of the creative work went into her wedding photography. In addition to taking the photos, she edits each image and assembles a “story” that documents the event. She told The Times that her job involves more than just “documenting” a wedding, adding that she photographs 15 to 20 weddings a year.
“It’s not just about me, it’s not just about those who identify with a certain faith or religion,” she said. “It’s about all the talkers and all the artists. Their speech goes in this direction. And we urge the government to respect the First Amendment and protect my speech so that I can choose the messages I promote without fear of government sanctions.