Justice Department supports Christian photographer who sued the city because law could force her to shoot same-sex weddings

Mar 2, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Justice Department supports Christian photographer who sued the city because law could force her to shoot same-sex weddings

Mar 2, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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A few months ago, wedding photographer Chelsey Nelson filed a lawsuit against her city of Louisville, Kentucky claiming that its law “forced” her to photograph same-sex weddings. According to her, this prohibited her from staying true to her Christian beliefs, and the Department of Justice has recently supported her in this legal battle.

In a piece she wrote for USA Today, Chelsey claims that “as a Christian, [she] shouldn’t be forced to work same-sex weddings.” To remind you, the Metro Ordinance 92.05 allows Louisville to impose a fine on her if she were to refuse to work with same-sex couples. The goal of this ordinance is to protect LGBT+ people from discrimination, but Chelsey seems to feel that it discriminates against her. So, she files a lawsuit against the city.

The Department of Justice filed a “statement of interest” this week in the federal court. According to this statement, “Forcing Ms. Nelson to create expression for and to participate in a ceremony that violates her sincerely held religious beliefs invades her First Amendment rights. The statement concludes that “Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits.” Or in the non-legal English language: Chelsey is likely to win this lawsuit.

When Chelsey started this legal battle, Sam Marcosson of Brandeis School of Law claimed that her suit wasn’t particularly strong. “What she’s claiming is the prospect that the law could be applied has the effect of infringing on her free speech because she is afraid,” he told WHAS 11 then. He added it could further weaken the case that no one had filed a discrimination complaint against Chelsey. However, it appears that the officials are on her side, at least for now. The case continues, and we still have to see how it ends. And I still think that it could have been resolved without courts and lawsuits but hey, that’s just me.

[via Huff Post]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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77 responses to “Justice Department supports Christian photographer who sued the city because law could force her to shoot same-sex weddings”

  1. Stephen Cottle Avatar
    Stephen Cottle

    And rightly so people cant say your discrimination to us when they too are discriminated against.

    1. David Hodgson Avatar
      David Hodgson

      Stephen Cottle please explain this post.

      1. Robert Hicks Avatar
        Robert Hicks

        David free people have the right to say no to entering into a business relationship

    2. Stephen Cottle Avatar
      Stephen Cottle

      Quite simple the “Gays” (using this as sample) are saying they are discriminated against and expect the photographer to shoot their wedding – but by doing that they are discriminating against the photographers beliefs.

    3. Stephen Cottle Avatar
      Stephen Cottle

      But why dont they find a photographer (or anyone) who is happy to shoot their wedding rather than gunning after someone who isnt interested for what ever reason

    4. Jessica Manigault Avatar
      Jessica Manigault

      Again same argument for people against intergration.

  2. Daniel Bksz Avatar
    Daniel Bksz

    Nobody should force others to like or not to like something against their own will. If someone wants me to accept if they are different, they should behave the same way. We are not even talking about being equal anymore, because this is not equal.

  3. Joe Spowal Jr. Avatar
    Joe Spowal Jr.

    smart judge!

  4. David Hodgson Avatar
    David Hodgson

    This is not about her rights it is an attack on same sex marriage.

    1. Robert Hicks Avatar
      Robert Hicks

      David Hodgson Or an attack on artists not wanting to perform at the point of a gun.

      1. a Avatar
        a

        Like it or not, photography is a service in this case. If someone does not want to do it for same sex couples, where is the limit? Singer won’t sing for them, actor won’t perform, baker won’t bake, doctor won’t treat… See what I mean. The photographer feels it conflicts with her belief, make an excuse and pass to job. Or get a ticket to the 21st century.

        1. aleroe Avatar
          aleroe

          Making an excuse doesn’t work. If the customers suspect you’re really just discriminating against them, they can cause trouble for you.

        2. aleroe Avatar
          aleroe

          If you’re in a community where all the singers, actors, bakers, etc. don’t like you, passing a law to force them to serve you is not a good solution. Sorry to say, you’re better off moving.

          But that’s not the situation here anyway. The couple could probably have easily found a photographer happy to do their wedding. Why would you want to hire someone who doesn’t want to work for you?

          1. Angel Avatar
            Angel

            There is not even a couple, the photographer is filing suit pre-emptively so she won’t have to work for LGTBQ’s in the future. I think she wants publicity to get name-recognition with her desired customer base (Christians).
            I’m pretty sure most couples would keep looking for someone who is excited to work their wedding, but some times there are no options. Moving away sure is no good option either.

          2. Robert Hicks Avatar
            Robert Hicks

            Where have you been? No in fact they would bring to suit to destroy anyone who says no, like say a baker.

          3. Vas Deferens Avatar
            Vas Deferens

            Then guess what, she will only win business from christians who support their view. And you know what, that means there is one less competitor in the market to shoot weddings for gay couples! Isn’t it fabulous how that works?

        3. a Avatar
          a

          “f you’re in a community where all the singers, actors, bakers, etc.
          don’t like you, passing a law to force them to serve you is not a good
          solution. Sorry to say, you’re better off moving.”

          I do think that you need to re-read what you wrote and apply it to other groups in your head then you will realize how bad it is.

        4. aleroe Avatar
          aleroe

          I’m fully aware of that. But what’s your solution? A law won’t make people like you. Do you want to hire a cook who hates you and might spit in your food? Do you want to hire a photographer for your special day who’s going be grumpy and surly?

          I’m sorry but life isn’t fair. And laws can’t solve everything. Yes, the civil rights movement overturned things like the Jim Crow laws. But those laws existed for 100 years and millions of people suffered under them for all that time. Activists live to fight injustice, and some of them accomplish great things. But most people just want to live a good life. Would you advise a black in the South in 1870 to be a martyr and live under the oppressive laws, or to move?

    2. Steven Dale Avatar
      Steven Dale

      Just a thought, what if a gay couple didn’t want a Christian photographer to do their wedding… maybe they think that because of their beliefs they wouldn’t have the right mindset? Is that discrimination? I think the whole thing rubs both ways. Also, the couple can choose from any number of photographers. That’s called choice and freedom.

  • David Hodgson Avatar
    David Hodgson

    Robert Hicks you know this has nothing to do with her as an artist and every to do with her political agenda. All photographers has rejected a client for one reason or another without starting a law suite. Homophobia is a form of racism and should be treated as such.

    1. Robert Hicks Avatar
      Robert Hicks

      I forgot some people are more equal than others.

  • David Hodgson Avatar
    David Hodgson

    Anna Diciero l do not understand your remark please explain.

  • Dajanaye Rollins Avatar
    Dajanaye Rollins

    David Hodgson homophobia is not a form of racism. It is a type of discrimination. Homosexuality is not a race. Please don’t confuse the 2

  • Melanie Cook Avatar
    Melanie Cook

    David Hodgson Could you define homophobia? I would think the basic definition would be a fear of homosexuals. I see nothing like that indicated in the article. As a believer in Jesus Christ, it is my conviction that marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and woman. I do not believe earthly governments have a right to disregard His design. That being said, I certainly have no fear of homosexuals. I actually have several very dear friends who are gay and we have deep respect for each other and our divergent convictions. They understand that I am not the person to ask to photograph their wedding, but they also know that I care about them. The photographer here is simply seeking to protect her civil right to perform her services based on her convictions. She is not attacking anyone. She is not hating anyone. She is simply reading the law and recognizing the far-reaching effects it could have on photographers’ rights to maintain their artistic integrity.

  • Daniel P Sousa Avatar
    Daniel P Sousa

    Of course this is about homophobia. She specifically names same-sex couples but doesn’t mentioned previously divorced people, for example.

  • Jessica Manigault Avatar
    Jessica Manigault

    Melanie Cook So you wouldn’t do a shoot for a muslim couple?

  • Melanie Cook Avatar
    Melanie Cook

    Jessica Manigault God ordained marriage to be between a man and a woman. I have performed ceremonies for couples who ascribed to different religious beliefs than me, as well as unbelievers. I would have no problem photographing a Muslim wedding as long as the bride and groom were equally yoked male and female. BTW, I have Muslim friends, atheist friends, agnostic friends, transgender friends, Protestant friends, Catholic friends, Democrat friends, Republican friends, as well as friends of different races and nationalities. Having different belief systems does not automatically result in hatred. It does open the door for awesome conversations!

  • Amy Jones Avatar
    Amy Jones

    good grief

  • Yolanda Enid Avatar
    Yolanda Enid

    This is not an Attack on same sex marriage. There are plenty of photographs who are willing to photograph them. It is about your right to stick to your moral values.

    1. Jessica Manigault Avatar
      Jessica Manigault

      Yolanda Enid so by that logic someone can refuse to shoot for non-Christian people or interracial couples.

      1. Robert Hicks Avatar
        Robert Hicks

        Yes, you finally got it! This is a non-essential service despite all the slippery slope bullshit. It’s a vendor making a choice

    2. John Nevill Avatar
      John Nevill

      Jessica Manigault Yep and gay photographers would be able to refuse to take photos of homophobic Nazis. Funny old world eh.

      1. Robert Hicks Avatar
        Robert Hicks

        You mean chase conservatives out of businesses? You get that’s been done repeatedly comrade

      2. Robert Hicks Avatar
        Robert Hicks

        Wow we did NOT SEE that one coming, this isn’t 1930s Germany no matter how you cospplay, it’s 1930s Russia and you’re the Marxists

    3. David Hodgson Avatar
      David Hodgson

      Yolanda Enid l don’t see the funny side of either group.

    4. Jessica Manigault Avatar
      Jessica Manigault

      John Nevill Hate groups aren’t a protected group and also it is understandable to refuse the job because it may not be safe for the photographer

  • a Avatar
    a

    OK, but then she must reject all non Christian weddings and all weddings that do not fit the requirements of the given Christian church she is member of.

    1. Robert Hicks Avatar
      Robert Hicks

      Umm so she’s free to pick clients as long as she mandatorily shoots the people you have selected?

  • Ann O'Loughlin Bertulli Avatar
    Ann O’Loughlin Bertulli

    She shiuld therefore only accept clients first weddings and be sure to include in the contract that they will never mix fabrics

    1. John Nevill Avatar
      John Nevill

      Reading that article it appears she doesn’t have that choice.

  • tkgold Avatar
    tkgold

    Awww…did it break her camera? Snowflake for sure.

  • Jason Artiga Avatar
    Jason Artiga

    This is a tricky area, but here and how it goes, I disagree with her stance on photographing gay weddings. But she does have the right to refuse and based on religious preference, what if she had she been a Muslim, or Jewish? Would had she been treated the same way. Would it be more tolerable. Also what gives the right for. Anybody to force a bigot to do work? And this is another problem, the couple themselves, they always had the choice in getting another photographer, unless this was some last-minute thing.

    I’m like this if you don’t like the person who’s providing the service religious beliefs, then just don’t go with them. I’ll be happy to take that gig.

  • Danny Madison Avatar
    Danny Madison

    If she quotes Leviticus to justify her feelings against gay people then I guarantee she’s a cherry picking hypocritical liar.

    1. Whatdoyknow Avatar
      Whatdoyknow

      Yep, you should know!!

  • Burt Johnson Avatar
    Burt Johnson

    I don’t see the reason for the furor over this. Yes, the photog is a Holier-Than-Thou idiot. So what?

    If I were to hire someone to photograph some key event in my life, why the HE** would I hire someone I know does not like that type of event? I might be able to legally force them to shoot it, but I certainly wouldn’t expect their best work as a result…

    Photog is an art. You cannot legislate an artist to produce good art. If they don’t like the subject, they will “just get by” at best.

    1. John W. O'Brien III Avatar
      John W. O’Brien III

      Burt Johnson cooking is an art, you cannot force cooks to cook for black people in public restaurants

    2. Burt Johnson Avatar
      Burt Johnson

      John W. O’Brien III – Not really, at the level you mean. Yes, cooking is an art for fine dining and unusual courses.

      When blacks were trying to be served in diners though, it was simple bacon and eggs kinda stuff. Not much art at that level.

    3. Angel Avatar
      Angel

      The problem is that it doesn’t stop at wedding photography. It continues into health and government services, where some times there are no alternatives.

      1. Robert Hicks Avatar
        Robert Hicks

        No Angel see that’s the problem with you statists, everything comes down to an absolute refusal because you don’t acknowledge individuals exist. These slippery slope arguments are ridiculous hyperbole

  • Melissa Matejka Buckley Avatar
    Melissa Matejka Buckley

    Shouldn’t be forced to do something you aren’t comfortable with… I hope she wins… As bad as the bakery. Go to a different one and be done with it .. stop demanding everyone be ok with your lifestyle.

    1. Jessica Manigault Avatar
      Jessica Manigault

      Melissa Matejka Buckley You know people where uncomfortable with intergration too.

    2. Angel Avatar
      Angel

      How about when it is a doctor or pharmacist refusing service based on their beliefs? How about when there are no alternative services?

    3. Melissa Matejka Buckley Avatar
      Melissa Matejka Buckley

      Jessica Manigault ok your point? Still not ok to demand… Act like there’s no other place to go to .. how come everyone forces us to accept things but no one can accept non acceptance?

  • John W. O'Brien III Avatar
    John W. O’Brien III

    You want to force me to bake a cake? Enjoy your cake with extra salted frosting…

    You want to force me to photograph your wedding? Enjoy your put of focus photos with the heads cut off….

    I personally don’t have a problem and have photographed many same sex weddings happily (their money is still green)

    But i DO have an issue with artists being forced to create in environments in which they don’t feel comfortable

    1. David Hodgson Avatar
      David Hodgson

      Yes l would agree with you. But this is not the issue no photographer has to shoot a wedding they don’t want to. She is trying to make a case against gay marriage. In fact I think it’s a publicity stunt to gat more work from the fundamentals.

    2. John W. O'Brien III Avatar
      John W. O’Brien III

      David Hodgson it is illegal to decline to provide a service to a “protected class” so yes, if a same sex couple asks you to shoot their wedding you can’t say “no, i don’t shoot same-sex weddings” that is discrimination under federal (and most state) law.
      “I’m booked that weekend” is a great way around it… but i guess if someone is making a stand on principle, they wouldn’t want to lie.

      As for if it’s for self promotion *shrug* no such thing as bad publicity, unless the gay couple sues you out of business and you lose your home, like one of those wedding cake bakers did….

  • Roman Bira Avatar
    Roman Bira

    Yes, yes, yes. Because we all know the married straight couple(s) whose marriage imploded because of gay people.

  • Chongo Yu Avatar
    Chongo Yu

    Hiring out of spite and anger towards someone. Not because.they are so great , u just gotta get their service. Lol

  • Jessica Manigault Avatar
    Jessica Manigault

    This is so absurd. Look I think it isn’t a sin to provide a service to someone who doesn’t share your belief system. Does that mean you don’t provide services to non-Christians? Does providing services to a Muslim couple make you muslim? No it doesn’t. Also this you can’t make me treat other Americans with the same respect as other Americans is the same agruement against intergration.

  • Vas Deferens Avatar
    Vas Deferens

    Hooray for justice! Any businessowner takes a risk when they choose to not provide a service, for whatever reason. I support that. And that risk is that people may not do business with them, for the reason they withheld service. I love the free market!

  • Brent Soulé Avatar
    Brent Soulé

    In the 50’s-70’s people and companies tried to use religion as a legal claim to discriminate against black people. Companies’ private owners tried to say serving and/or hiring black people was against their religion, and freedom of religion gave them the right to. The supreme court repetitively ruled that a religious believe does not give you, or your company, the right to discriminate. Some people truly believed being black was as much a sin as being gay is now.

  • Clayton Glover Avatar
    Clayton Glover

    I do video for a guy. And one day Ibshowed up to shoot the wedding. He told me the couples name. I dont remember the exact names but was something like Sasha and Julie. I thought to myself …pooh my first gay wedding..lol

    Only to meet the couples… sasha… a 6’7 350+ all muscle Black man and his lovely petite white bride. Rotflmao. The first thing I thought of is the boy named sue. No wonder this guy was a beast!… the funny thing is… the humor didnt stop there. Hanging out with the dj at dinner..who was asian. We started discussing the diversity of the guest. The groom’s guest we predominantly black and from what I could see from lower income to middle class. The Brides guest were mostly from an upper class. The DJ said.. indont know which way to go with this…lol.
    The Reception was awesome. Everyone seemed to have a great time. Never once did there seem to be any racial or economic tension between the guest. One of the most fun weddings I have ever shot.

    I personally do not care if it’s a gay wedding or whatever. But I certainly understand the perspective of the photographers or bakers perspective. It may not have anything to do with religion. But the basic principle.
    Should a Klan member be allowed to sue a black or interracial couple FOR NOT hiring them? It’s all about perspective

    1. Jessica Manigault Avatar
      Jessica Manigault

      Clayton Glover What? For one the photographer refused to do the job. Second, hate groups aren’t protected classes. Also not wanting to shoot for a Klan rally because it may not be safe for a POC, jewish, muslim etc person is understandable since the KKK is about genocide. Look LGBTQ people have rights just like anyone else in this country.

    2. Clayton Glover Avatar
      Clayton Glover

      Jessica Manigault have you never seen Gay people barge into a church and disrupt a service? Have you never seen gay people attack Christian’s? The point is. It’s a personal choice to shoot what you want to shoot. Inhave the right to refuse to shoot a wedding simply if the wedding is outside.

  • JustChristoph Avatar
    JustChristoph

    This comes down to a fundermental right to your feelings and emotions without a requirement that you justify them.

    Anybody who is gay will surely advocate a right to feel the way they feel without a need to justfy themselves. By the same measure, if a person does not feel comfortable about gayness, that’s how they feel. Why would anybody insist that they are meant to be comfortable with that.

  • Michael Beckerman Avatar
    Michael Beckerman

    When you say you are going to do business with the public you DO NOT get to pick and choose WHO in the public is “good enough” to qualify to be your customer and who isn’t based on your religious beliefs. You can believe whatever crazy, made up crap you like about invisible men in the sky and their magic books of spells. You can NOT however discriminate against the public as a result of those beliefs. Just because YOU are brainwashed by a special interest group doesn’t grant you the right to punish those in the public as a result of that brainwashing.

  • Roelien van Neck Avatar
    Roelien van Neck

    Well it is very sad that she is against same sex marriage. But you can’t force someone to do something she doesn’t want to. If I were that couple I wouldn’t even want her to take the photo’s. It is kinda risky that you end up with bad photo’s of what should be the best photo’s of your life. Just hire an other photographer. I wouldn’t want to spend my money on a photographer with such immoral ideas. She might ruin the wedding.

    1. Whatdoyknow Avatar
      Whatdoyknow

      And I wouldn’t want to photograph people with such immoral ideas as same sex marriage. So who determines here who is immoral??? Tel me!!!

  • Paul Girvan Avatar
    Paul Girvan

    Just clicked on her website to browse… Not up to the standard of the gays I know anyway. She shouldn’t worry ?

  • Judy Fisher Hogan Avatar
    Judy Fisher Hogan

    Hopefully with her FREEDOM where it should.

  • jamesgordonpatterson Avatar
    jamesgordonpatterson

    You mean you can be FORCED to do something like this? One of the many reasons I won’t do weddings, but hey I guess now I can be FORCED to photograph a wedding with three guys, a horse, and a toaster oven? Can I set my own price? Is that allowed? I would charge $500 million to do the job. OK, here’s a test. Is it ok to force a MUSLIM photographer to photograph a same sex wedding? How about forcing a MUSLIM bakery to put out a cake for a same sex wedding? Any problem with that? Or is it just forcing a CHRISTIAN? Ever notice the people who bellow about choice are the same ones who use FORCE?

  • Steve Slate Avatar
    Steve Slate

    First off, it’s sad that this country has gotten to this point. Trying to force someone against their will to do something they don’t want to do isn’t freedom. On the other hand laws are to protect people, not events. If the photog refused to make a portrait of a person that’s different. Events that include aspects that violate people’s religious beliefs or conscience are not included in these laws. The cake maker was asked to make a cake with extremely vulgar things on it. He refused. Why is this so hard to accept? If you were getting married and someone told you that they would be very uncomfortable photographing it, it’s a guarantee they wouldn’t do a good job. Why would anyone want to force someone to do a bad job on such a special event? They wouldn’t. The only reason they try to force it is to punish people who don’t agree with them. How can we call that tolerance? It’s actually intolerance. Laws only tell us how far we can go. They can’t force people to do things. We live in a country that protects speech, protects our freedom to worship (practice religion), and promotes the freedom to disagree. How many people here would try to force an African American caterer to serve lunch at a KKK rally? Or how about forcing an atheist to sit on the front row of a church service? The bottom line to all of this is people need to learn how to accept criticism. There will be people who don’t agree with you. It’s not your place to punish them for it. If you want someone to perform a service, there are plenty of people out there willing to do it. Just be prepared to handle rejection, especially if your request violates the conscience of other people. People need to understand the difference between discriminating a person and declining to service an event. Can you imagine asking a die-hard Democrat to vote republican? If they refuse, punish them. It’s absurd. Come on people, use some of the maturity you know you have.

  • Melanie Ayers Wells Avatar
    Melanie Ayers Wells

    This is local to me. When it first hit the news I decided to see what started this lawsuit. She hadn’t even been asked to shoot a same sex marriage. It started on the heals of the circuit clerk in Rowan county who refused to issue same sex marriage licenses. People on Facebook were going to her Facebook page and business page. She had very little work and very few followers on either page at the time. Her work wasn’t high wasn’t high quality, and many people started questioning if this was just a publicity stunt to get more traffic for her website etc.

    Let’s face it a same sex couple wants quality wedding photos just like any other wedding couple. They also want to feel comfortable and confident in their photographer. The odds of a single sex couple contacting her were extremely low based on the fact that her website had a very religious undertone , that alone would have been a clue to couples that she was probably not a good fit for their LGBQT lifestyle.

    Although not all religious people feel that way let’s face it more do then don’t.

    Personally she got what she wanted notoriety that led to traffic to her site and I’m sure she gained clients who supported her beliefs.

  • Chris Avatar
    Chris

    Why would anyone want a Christian bigot to photograph their wedding? Find a photographer who will capture the love and joy of the day and let the Christians go do whatever it is they do to try and get through their miserable lives

  • Tom Avatar
    Tom

    It is immensely powerful to hear that Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic church, reportedly told Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay man: “God made you like this and loves you like this.”

  • Jared Ribic Avatar
    Jared Ribic

    What’s next? Are they going to force B&H to be open for business on Saturdays?

  • James Windsor Avatar
    James Windsor

    AVOID HER. DON’T LET YOURS OR ANYONE’S WEDDING BE RUINED BY THIS HATE FILLED BIGOT.