After a Court Loss, This Christian Photographer is Still Fighting to Protect Her First Amendment Rights

Christian photographer Emilee Carpenter filed a lawsuit last April against New York state and county officials over laws she said would force her to use her artistic talents to provide services for homosexual “weddings,” which would conflict with her religious beliefs about what the God of the Bible calls a sin.

Carpenter also said she’d decline to provide services that condone racism or promote violence. She alleges that the laws violate her First Amendment rights to freedom of worship and speech.

If Carpenter were to decline to photograph a homosexual “wedding,” she’d face fines up to $100,000, a revoked business license, and up to a year in jail. The laws even bar her from sharing on her own business site why she doesn’t provide services for certain events — if the reason is religious.

A federal court ruled that the government can force her and other small businesses to violate their religious beliefs about marriage. But Carpenter has appealed that decision. From her legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF):

“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.”

In a similar case, Christian graphic artist Lorie Smith also sued the state over laws that would infringe on her First Amendment rights, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in July ruled against her. ADF this week filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review her case.

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