Commentary

2 American Filmmakers Face Jail if They Won't Make Gay Marriage Videos

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Conservatives have warned for years that the debate over promoting gay marriage wouldn’t stop with wedding cakes … and an eye-opening case in Minnesota is proving them right.

Several high-profile cases have already brought up the struggle between religious freedom and equal rights laws. Do Christian florists and wedding venues who see same-sex marriage as against their deeply-held beliefs have the right to politely decline business requests that promote same-sex marriage? And what about when it’s a clear act of artistic expression?

A lawsuit that is being considered by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota involves two Christian filmmakers. They say they are being illegally forced to make films that are against their core personal beliefs.

“Telescope Media Group owners Carl and Angel Larsen have already been threatened with hefty fines and up to 90 days in jail if they choose to disregard the law,” explained CBN News.

“The Larsens want to enter the wedding industry,” CBN continued.

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“However, the state’s Human Rights Act stipulates if the couple creates films celebrating their Christian beliefs about marriage – that marriage is between one man and one woman, they must also create films about marriage that violate their beliefs, including films promoting same-sex marriages.”

Film is a clear artistic creation that is without a doubt covered under the First Amendment as free speech.

And what makes the issue even more interesting is that protecting the free expression of artists including filmmakers is traditionally something liberals championed. It seems the tables have turned.

Do you think these filmmakers will prevail in court?

“The government shouldn’t threaten filmmakers with fines and jail time to force them to create films that violate their beliefs,” stated attorney Jeremy Tedesco in a news released. He’s representing the two filmmakers as part of the Alliance Defending Freedom.

“Carl and Angel are storytellers – they script, stage, conduct interviews, capture footage, select music, edit and more – all to tell compelling stories through film that promote their religious beliefs,” Tedesco elaborated.

He thinks that Supreme Court decisions are on his clients’ side.

“The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 … that the government must respect the belief — held by countless Americans from all walks of life — that marriage is between one man and one woman,” the counselor explained.

It’s easy to see how the “slippery slope” could lead to serious moral and legal questions if these filmmakers lose their case. Where is the line?

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What happens when, say, an anti-American group approaches a veteran-owned video production business to produce a film trashing the U.S. as an evil country? There’s nothing illegal about holding that distasteful view; should the vet be forced to make the video?

How about a Jewish voiceover artist forced to record anti-Israeli content for an Islamic group? A lesbian contract writer told she has no choice but pen articles that are completely against her beliefs? The problems here are endless, and they cover both sides of the political spectrum.

Here’s a thought: We should lean toward letting people live their lives as they wish, at least whenever possible. There’s more than one cake shop, and there are presumably other filmmakers who would jump at the chance to produce a film celebrating gay marriage.

Freedom of religion, speech, and the First Amendment apply to all sides. Stifling one group’s freedom at the request of another is not liberty.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.




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