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Law

Photographer is suing city so she doesn’t have to photograph same-sex weddings, even though no one asked her

Lily Wakefield November 21, 2019
photographer same-sex weddings

Chelsey Nelson wants an injunction so she doesn't have to photograph same-sex weddings, even though no one asked her to. (Alliance Defending Freedom)

A photographer is suing her city because she doesn’t want to photograph same-sex weddings, even though not a single same-sex couple has ever asked her to.

Chelsey Nelson, of Chelsey Nelson Photography, describes herself on her website as “a Louisville, Kentucky photographer and private photo editor with a heart for Jesus”.

Louisville was the first city in Kentucky to introduce a Fairness Ordinance in 1999, initiated by LGBT+ advocacy group The Fairness Campaign, and has now been joined by many others.

The ordinance protects LGBT+ people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations. It also protects all people from discrimination in the same areas based on religion, national origin, age, sex, colour and race.

But according to the Courier Journal, Nelson is asking the Louisville District Court to issue an injunction to ensure that she never has to photograph same-sex weddings, even though no one has ever asked her to.

The lawsuit claims that the Fairness Ordinance violates “the United States Constitution’s First Amendment protections for speech, for association, for press, for free exercise of religion”.

Two attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as an anti-LGBT+ hate group, are helping Nelson with her case.

The lawsuit continues: “Louisville is using the threat of limitless damages, compliance reports, posting of notices, and court orders to force Chelsey to create photographs for, blog about, and participate in solemn ceremonies she disagrees with — same-sex wedding ceremonies.

“We don’t force LGBT web designers to create content condemning same-sex marriage for a church, or force Muslim printers to design anti-Islam flyers for a synagogue.

“The First Amendment protects these speakers’ freedom. Louisville should not take the same freedom away from Chelsey just because she wants to speak in favour of one particular view on marriage.”

Director of The Fairness Campaign Chris Hartman described the lawsuit as “ludicrous” and said he believes Alliance Defending Freedom is trying “to undermine civil rights laws across the nation” by helping Nelson.

Churches are protected by the Fairness Ordinance, and Hartman added: “There is a balance that has been struck in fairness ordinances with religious beliefs. But if you have a business that is open to the public, what is says is that you should be serving everyone.”

More: Alliance Defending Freedom, Chelsey Nelson, First Amendment, Kentucky, Louisville, religious freedom, same sex weddings

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