Business sues state over same-sex laws

Business sues state over same-sex marriage laws

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - The owners of a St. Cloud video production company are suing the Minnesota commissioner of human rights and attorney general, challenging state laws that force them to accept same-sex couples who want their marriage ceremonies video recorded as clients.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court on behalf of Carl and Angel Larsen, challenges provisions of the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The Larsens, who own Telescope Media Group, believe that marriage should be limited to one man and one woman, and they use their company to "create media productions that honor God," according to their lawsuit.

They are filing the lawsuit to prevent the human rights department from charging them with violations of the Human Rights Act if they turn down a same-sex couple, or people posing as a same-sex couple, who request their services.

A violation of the Human Rights Act can be charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

In 2014, the state announced a settlement against a Little Falls wedding venue that had refused to rent to a same-sex couple. It was the first case involving discrimination in public accommodation based on sexual orientation since same-sex marriage was legalized in Minnesota in 2013.

The lawsuit said the human rights office received a complaint about Rice Creek Hunting and Recreation and then used a "tester" posing as a person who wanted to rent the venue for a same-sex wedding.

The Larsens are represented by attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based, conservative Christian non-profit whose stated goal is to advocate "for the right of people to freely live out their faith."

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to find two state human rights statutes unconstitutional.


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