Universal Life Church Case Law
Phone: (614) 715-9048 Fax: (614) 715-9049
Email: info@ulccaselaw.com
ULC Case Law
1629 K Street NW, Ste 300
Washington, D.C. 20006


Department of Justice Backs Anti-LGBTQ Wedding Photographer

April 8th, 2020

A Christian wedding photographer initiated legal action against the City of Louisville over an LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance.
A Christian wedding photographer initiated legal action against the City of Louisville over an LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance.

Towards the end of February of this year, the United States Department of Justice provided input on an issue that arose in Kentucky. A Christian wedding photographer initiated legal action against the City of Louisville over a nondiscrimination ordinance that she feels may “force” her to shoot LGBTQ weddings, even though no one has approached her to shoot such a wedding.

The Wedding Photographer’s Lawsuit

The lawsuit first received substantial media attention when the Alliance Defending Freedom organization filed on behalf of the wedding photographer. As part of the filing documents, the photographer references Louisville’s 20-year-old “Fairness Ordinance,” which prevents discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation. The lawsuit claims the city’s ordinance infringes on the photographer’s freedom of religion and speech because it could be used to force her to create photographs for same-sex weddings, which is something she does not want to do.

The Department of Justice’s Statement

Initially, the lawsuit was dismissed by many critics. After all, the photographer has not been approached by a same-sex couple and is filing the lawsuit preemptively. By commenting on the issue, the United States Department of Justice has shown otherwise. In its statement supporting the photographer, the Department of Justice expressed the viewpoint that she should prevail on First Amendment terms. In its opinion, the Department of Justice noticed that the central issue in the case is whether the government can compel a wedding photographer to shoot LGBTQ weddings. 

The Department of Justice’s opinion also cited the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which was won by a Colorado baker who refused to provide his services to a same-sex couple. The Department of Justice argues that the photographer’s case is similar because photography is an “expression” and a type of “speech.” Requiring the photographer to participate in LGBTQ wedding ceremonies, the opinion argues, would be the same type of governmental intrusion as that which was shot down in the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision.

Critics of the Lawsuit Respond

In response to this opinion, many critics and LGBTQ-friendly organizations argued that this case differs from Masterpiece Cakeshop in one substantial way: This case does not involve a specific act. The photographer has not been “compelled” to shoot an LGBT wedding. Instead, these critics argue, the photographer is pursuing a lawsuit to prevent the possibility of such a situation, which would make it seem she had no standing to sue since she has not yet been “harmed” by the ordinance.

The City of Louisville’s Response

In response to the lawsuit, the City of Louisville has argued that the wedding photographer has no cause to challenge the ordinance. Louisville has also asked the judge to dismiss the case. The ACLU expressed the opinion that the photographer wants to know who a prospective client is before deciding whether to refuse her service, which constitutes a type of identity-based discrimination.

Continue Reading the Universal Life Church’s Blog

Following the 2015 Obergefell decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the United States, there have been several legal decisions that have been perceived as setbacks for LGBTQ individuals. It remains uncertain, however, exactly what the rights of LGBTQ people in this country will be. By reading the Universal Life Church’s blog, you can remain up to date with these issues. We strive to explain matters in a way that examines both sides.

Leave a Reply