On February 12, 2020, the Center for Religious Expression weighed in on an important case as an amicus curiae in the federal district court for the district of Kentucky, asking the court to protect the right of Christian photographer and blogger Chelsy Nelson to photograph, write, and publish messages consistent with her faith.
Through her studio, Nelson takes and edits wedding photos, arranges them, and writes a story about the couple and their wedding on her blog. This is an especially intimate form of art, involving the artist’s personal observations and capturing the couple’s life experience through word and image. Nelson wants to create positive and uplifting stories about the weddings she photographs and participates in. As a Christian, the only wedding stories her conscience allows her to promote are those between one man and one woman.
But her convictions have put her at odds with the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government. The Metro Government maintains an ordinance that demands Nelson use her creative expertise to capture, edit, write and publish messages celebrating same-sex weddings. According to the Metro Government, Nelson’s convictions that she should not create messages extolling same-sex marriage constitutes illegal “discrimination.” Nelson is forced to decide between her faith and her livelihood. Her only recourse is to seek relief from the courts.
This is why CRE cannot stand by and watch. In its brief, CRE points out that the First Amendment does not tolerate the government compelling citizens to write messages approving and celebrating events violative of their convictions. CRE is asking the district court to give Nelson the relief she deserves.
“They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. Chelsy Nelson’s wedding photography and blogging studio strives to provide the best of both. Every American has the right to base what to say or not say on their faith – not on what government officials deem to be enlightened,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “As a number of courts have recently held, the government cannot force people to say what they don’t believe.”
Center for Religious Expression is a servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian legal organization dedicated to the glory of God and the religious freedom of His people. For more information, visit http://www.crelaw.org.