Thursday, March 09, 2017

Photographer Challenges Public Accommodation Law

Earlier this week a suit was filed in a Wisconsin state trial court challenging Madison City Code § 39.03(5) which makes it illegal for public accommodations to deny “equal enjoyment” because of someone’s sexual orientation or political beliefs or to publish “any communication” that denies facilities or that conveys a person’s patronage is “unwelcome, objectionable or unacceptable” because of someone’s sexual orientation or political beliefs. It also challenges Wis. Stat. §106.52 that has similar provisions regarding sexual orientation. The complaint (full text) in Amy Lynn Photography Studio, LLC v. City of Madison, (WI Cir. Ct., filed 3/7/2017), contends that these legal provisions impede the ability of photographer Amy Lynn to rely on her Christian religious beliefs in deciding which clients to offer her visual storytelling service:
Amy loves to photograph and post about weddings so that others can see God’s love and character displayed in the beauty of marriage. Amy also wants to photograph for and post about pro-life pregnancy health clinics so that others can see God’s love and character displayed in the sanctity of life. These desires have grown as Amy has seen our culture increasingly question the value of marriage and the sanctity of human life.
To counteract that trend, Amy not only promotes certain content, she avoids certain content. Amy can hardly promote her beliefs while glamorizing contrary ideas. Amy therefore cannot photograph or write about things celebrating pornography, racism, violence, abortion, or any marriage besides marriage between one man and one woman, such as same-sex marriage. Nor can she photograph or write about organizations that promote those beliefs.
But Madison’s and Wisconsin’s public accommodation laws forbid that freedom.

An ADF press release announced the filing of the lawsuit.