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Trump administration backs photographer who sued an entire city so she doesn’t have to work at same-sex weddings

Emma Powys Maurice February 28, 2020
photographer same-sex weddings Chelsey Nelson

Chelsey Nelson (Alliance Defending Freedom)

Trump’s department of justice is backing a photographer who is suing her city because she doesn’t want to photograph same-sex weddings.

Chelsey Nelson of Louisville, Kentucky, has filed a lawsuit challenging her city’s Fairness Ordinance, which protects LGBT+ people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

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.

On Thursday the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest asserting that Nelson is likely to succeed in her claim because requiring her to photograph a “ceremony that violates her sincerely held religious beliefs invades her First Amendment rights”.

It said that the First Amendment intrusion occurs when someone is forced to use their artistic talents towards something that goes against their conscience.

“Photography is an expressive art form,” the DOJ suggested, “and a wedding itself is an expressive event. Weddings are sacred rites in the religious realm and profoundly symbolic ceremonies in the secular one.

“It is in the very nature of wedding photography that a photographer who is earnestly pursuing her craft in a professional manner will use her artistic talents and skills to celebrate and honour the union.”

It therefore concluded that “defendants have not offered, and could not reasonably offer, a sufficient justification” for forcing Nelson not to discriminate against LGBT+ people.

Nelson is represented in her case by two attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, which is designated by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as an anti-LGBT+ hate group.

She assures the LGBT+ community that although she will refuse to photograph same-sex weddings she is happy to provide her services at other events, “regardless of sexual orientation” – although we can’t imagine any LGBT+ person would want to go near her at this point.

More: Chelsey Nelson, department of justice, Same-sex wedding, Trump

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