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Labrador joins AGs in defense of Kentucky wedding photographer

March 1, 2023

Chelsey Nelson
Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador today joined a coalition of 21 states, led by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, in filing an amicus brief before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit supporting the religious liberty and free speech rights of a Louisville wedding photographer to decline to take photographs in a wedding that would go against her religious beliefs.

An amicus brief is a legal document supplied to a court of law containing advice or information relating to a case from a person or organization that is not directly involved in the case.

Chelsey Nelson filed a lawsuit against Louisville city officials in 2019. She argued that a city ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public accommodations and employment violated her First Amendment right as it could force her to take photos of same-sex weddings, which she opposes. A federal district court in September ruled in favor of Nelson, a ruling the city appealed.

“I am proud to join this brief on behalf of Idaho. Religious freedom is an inherent American value and the cornerstone of a healthy society. I will not allow this fundamental right to be eroded. I will take every opportunity to defend religious liberty and freedom speech against any attack,” Labrador said.

The Louisville business owner has asked the Sixth Circuit to uphold a federal district judge’s ruling that protected her religious liberty and free speech rights by preventing Louisville from requiring the photographer to provide custom photography services at a same-sex wedding.

In the amicus brief, the coalition argues that in this case Louisville’s public-accommodation ordinance violates the photographer’s rights under the Free Speech Clause and Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The coalition writes, “Both the Free Speech Clause and Kentucky’s RFRA apply. That means Louisville’s public-accommodation law must give way here. Louisville cannot force Nelson to take custom wedding photos for a same-sex wedding that send a message she disagrees with based on her religious beliefs.”

Attorney General Labrador joined attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia in filing the brief.

To view a copy of the amicus brief, click here.

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