The Family Foundation files amicus brief

March/April 2020

This Louisville case will have significant impact on all local SOGI laws in Kentucky. Religious liberty and free speech are at risk.

The Family Foundation, along with the Center for Religious Expression, filed an amicus brief in federal court on Wednesday, Feb. 12 to support a Louisville wedding photographer and blogger who is challenging the city’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) ordinance for forcing her to promote same-sex weddings and prohibiting her from publicly explaining her beliefs about celebrating marriage.

Chelsey Nelson is a young entrepreneur, photographer, and blogger who simply desires the freedom to continue telling stories that present marriage as something created by God, worthy of celebration, and honor.

That’s why Chelsey has filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s SOGI ordinance for violating the U.S. Constitution and Kentucky law.

The Family Foundation’s 24-page brief emphasizes the constitutional principle that government cannot force citizens to create images, written words, or other speech which they oppose or would not otherwise produce.

In June of 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on another case in which a SOGI law threatened to force a business owner to violate their conscience.

In Masterpiece Cakeshop, the justices decided the case on the basis of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s “clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs” that motivated the baker’s objection to creating a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

However, a review of each opinion in the Masterpiece decision reveals that every participating justice, despite significant differences, recognizes that SOGI laws cannot be invoked to compel words.

Even the 20 states, 13 First Amendment scholars, the National League of Cities, and virtually all of the others who opposed the baker, believed that compelling words or images would violate the U.S. Constitution.

Those involved in Masterpiece aren’t alone in recognizing this principle. Other cases involving SOGI laws echoed matching sentiments: The Washington Supreme Court in State v. Arlene’s Flowers, Inc. (2017), the Oregon Court of Appeals in Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (2017), the Supreme Court of Arizona in Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix (2019), and the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Telescope Media Group v. Lucero (2019).

It is a resounding and universally recognized doctrine, the government cannot compel the selecting and composing of written messages or images. It is time for the courts to bring the City of Louisville into compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Kentucky law.

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