Louisville, Kentucky — August 14, 2020. Today, the federal district court for the Western District of Kentucky granted relief to Chelsy Nelson, a Christian photographer and blogger, protecting her right to photograph, write, and publish messages consistent with her faith, echoing principles set forth in the Amicus Curiae brief the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed earlier this year in the case.
Nelson makes her living photographing weddings, arranging the photos on her blog, and writing to tell the story of the couple and their wedding. This blend of visual and written art enlists her skill, artistic judgment, and unique perspective to produce the positive and uplifting stories about weddings she wants to tell. Her Christian faith tells her to promote only those weddings stories between one man and one woman.
But her convictions put her in a precarious position with the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government. The Metro Government insisted Nelson photograph, write, and publish stories celebrating same-sex weddings, contending that refusal to promote such messages would be illegal “discrimination.” Nelson was forced to betray her beliefs, forcing her to seek relief from the courts.
CRE’s friend-of-the-court brief pointed out that forcing citizens to betray their beliefs as the cost of doing business violates core First Amendment principles. Thankfully, the district court agreed, recognizing that photography and written storytelling are protected forms of speech that cannot be rightly compelled. The court issued an order prohibiting the Metro Government from enforcing its ordinance against Nelson.
“The court’s straightforward opinion acknowledges artistic photography and words are protected from government compulsion,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “Under the First Amendment, Nelson and others like her should be free to show and tell stories consistent with their faith.”
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.