The Department of Justice this week filed papers in federal court to back a Kentucky wedding photographer in her fight against a Louisville ordinance that bans local businesses from discriminating against gay customers.
According to the DOJ's statement of interest, the photographer, Chelsey Nelson is likely to succeed in her claims that being required to photograph same-sex weddings violates her religious beliefs, and "invades her First Amendment rights," reports NBC News.
Nelson filed her lawsuit in November, stating that her Christian views that include the belief that marriage should only be "between one man and one woman," shapes all of her life, including her "business, her art, and her creativity."
Eric Dreiband, an assistant attorney general for the DOJ's Civil Rights Divison, said in a separate statement the government will continue protecting the rights of all people to exercise their rights to speech and expression.
Nelson's lawsuit states she would refuse any request for weddings or editing services for any weddings not involving one man and one woman, including same-sex, polygamous, or open marriage ceremonies, as they would violate her "religious and artistic beliefs."
However, her lawsuit says she would "happily work with and provide her wedding celebration services for a wedding between a homosexual man and a woman."
The American Civil Liberties Union is defending Louisville and says Nelson's intention to only photograph opposite-sex couples violates the city's law.
"Nelson Photography's objection is not to a particular message requested by any particular customer, but to providing a service to an entire class of customers who are not heterosexual," the ACLU said in its brief. "Nelson Photography must know who a prospective customer is before deciding whether it will refuse to serve that person. That is identity-based discrimination, not an objection to the provision of a specific product."
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