For nearly one year, a Christian photographer has been battling New York state laws that require her to create photographs and blogs celebrating same-sex weddings, even though it violates her religious beliefs.
Emilee Carpenter filed a federal lawsuit against the state's legislation last year. However, a district court dismissed her case in December.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys who represent Carpenter, filed an appeal with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday. They argue the laws go against the First and Fourteenth Amendments, restricting her rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.
"Artists like Emilee are protected under the Constitution to freely live and work according to their religious beliefs, and it is imperative the 2nd Circuit upholds that fundamental right," said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. "Emilee happily serves all people; she just cannot promote messages which contradict her religious beliefs, including her views on marriage. A government that crushes an individual's right to speak and act freely threatens every American's freedom."
UPDATE: NY photographer fights for freedom to create according to her beliefs
ADF attorneys representing Emilee Carpenter ask appeals court to review lower court’s decision allowing government to compel speech
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) January 12, 2022
As CBN News reported last April, one of the laws also forbids Carpenter and her business from publicly explaining on her studio's own website or social media her religious reasons for only celebrating wedding ceremonies between one man and one woman.
New York prohibits such communications because they could make potential customers feel "unwelcome, objectionable or not accepted, desired, or solicited."
Penalties for not adhering to the state's laws include fines of up to $100,000, a revoked business license, and up to a year in jail.
"The court's decision continues down a dangerous path of the government compelling artists to speak messages that violate their religious beliefs—or imposing steep fines, closing their businesses, or throwing them in jail," ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs said in a statement.
The law firm said the judge has left Carpenter with "three bad options": Violate the law, violate her beliefs, or close business.
In the lawsuit, ADF outlined that obedience to her Christian faith is paramount for Carpenter.
"Emilee believes that God designed marriage as a gift for people of all faiths, races, and backgrounds, to reflect the unity and diversity seen in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and to point people to Jesus' sacrificial and redemptive love for His Church," the lawsuit reads. "Emilee celebrates engagements and marriages between one man and one woman through what she photographs, participates in, and posts about in order to share God's design for marriage with her clients and the public consistent with her beliefs."