Religious Freedom

A third case granting a wedding provider a free speech exemption from an antidiscrimination law

For the third time, a court has held that a public accommodations law cannot be enforced against a service provider who objects, for religious reasons, to same sex marriage. Chelsey Nelson Photography, LLC v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Gov’t, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146246 (W.D. Ky. 2020). The other two times were: Telescope Media Group...

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Both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are forms of sex discrimination

Although decided under Title VII (employment discrimination) rather than the Fair Housing Act, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S.Ct. 1731 (2020) that both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are forms of sex discrimination is quite likely to be extended to the housing context. Justice Gorsuch’s majority opinion focused on a textual...

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Eighth Circuit holds that videographers have First Amendment free speech right to refuse to provide services at same-sex weddings

In Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, 936 F.3d 740 (8th Cir. 2019), the Eighth Circuit held that Minnesota could not enforce its public accommodations law against a company that refused to provide video services for same-sex weddings. The process of producing a video, the court said, constitutes “speech” and would be posted on the company’s website....

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State constitutional and statutory right in Arizona to refuse to create custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples

In a 4-3 decision, the Arizona Supreme Court has interpreted its constitution, Ariz. Const. art. 2, §6, and its Free Exercise of Religion Act, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 41-1493.01, to give a public accommodation the right to refuse service to same-sex couples who seek custom wedding invitations. ...

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Federal court allows public accommodation to refuse to create custom videos of same-sex weddings

In a 2 to 1 vote, the Eight Circuit has held that the First Amendment prohibits a state from enforcing its public accommodations law if it requires videographers to create custom videotapes of same-sex weddings even though they provide this service to opposite-sex weddings. Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 25320 (8th Cir. 2019). Because the videos will be edited and posted on the videographer's website, the majority accepted the defendant's argument that they would convey a message of support for same-sex marriage contrary to the... Read more about Federal court allows public accommodation to refuse to create custom videos of same-sex weddings

Supreme Court to decide whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are forms of "sex" discrimination under federal laws

The Supreme Court accepted certiorari in three cases (Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC) and will determine whether federal employment discrimination laws that ban "sex" discrimination cover discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or...

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First Circuit resolves dispute over religious real and personal property by reference to formal agreements

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has resolved a longstanding and complicated dispute between two congregations over control of the real and personal property of the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. In an opinion by Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., the trial court had found that an implied or constructive trust existed by which a New York Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI) held title to the property for the benefit of the Newport Rhode Island Congregation Jeshuat Israel (CJI)....

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