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Minnesota filmmakers to court: Stop state from controlling stories we tell

Owners of Telescope Media Group, ADF attorney available to media following hearing Friday

Thursday, May 25, 2017
WHO: Telescope Media Group owners Carl and Angel Larsen, ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco
WHAT: Available for media interviews following court hearing in Telescope Media Group v. Lindsey
WHEN: Friday, May 26, 1-4 p.m. CDT; please call (781) 856-2467 to book a specific interview time
WHERE: Copper Room at Westin Minneapolis, 88 S. 6th St., Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS – Two Minnesota filmmakers and their Alliance Defending Freedom attorney will be available for media interviews following a federal court hearing Friday in their lawsuit against state officials. Carl and Angel Larsen and the company they own, Telescope Media Group, asked the court in January to halt enforcement of a state law against them that forces them to use their artistic talents to promote same-sex marriages if they produce films that celebrate marriage between one man and one woman.

If the court grants the request, enforcement of the law against the Larsens would be suspended while their case moves forward in court. At the hearing, the court will also consider the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which would leave the possibility of unconstitutional censorship in place.

Minnesota Department of Human Rights officials have repeatedly stated that private businesses such as the Larsens’ violate the law if they decline to create expression promoting same-sex weddings. Penalties for violation include payment of a civil penalty to the state; triple compensatory damages; punitive damages of up to $25,000; a criminal penalty of up to $1,000; and even up to 90 days in jail.

“Creative professionals shouldn’t be threatened with fines and jail simply for having a perspective the government doesn’t favor,” said Tedesco, who will argue before the court Friday. “Every American—including filmmakers and other artists—should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of punishment. That’s why we are asking the court to suspend enforcement of Minnesota’s law while the Larsens’ suit proceeds.”

Specifically, the lawsuit, Telescope Media Group v. Lindsey, challenges portions of Minnesota Statutes Chapter 363. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights has construed that law to force creative professionals like the Larsens to promote objectionable messages even though they gladly serve everyone and decide what stories to tell based on the story’s message, not any client’s personal characteristics.

Renee Carlson, one of nearly 3,200 private attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel in the case for the Larsens and Telescope Media Group.
  • Fact sheet: Telescope Media Group v. Lindsey
  • Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Teh-DESS’-koh)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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