The Dane County Circuit Court has stated on Tuesday that a Christian photographer in Wisconsin would not be punished for refusing to provide her services for same-sex weddings.
Amy Lawson, who owns Amy Lynn Photography Studio in Madison, filed a lawsuit against the city and state officials in March to challenge a local ordinance and a state law that could force her and other creative professionals to promote messages that violate their beliefs.
On Tuesday, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs made his arguments in court in favor of halting the enforcement of the Madison city ordinance and the state law that both have rules covering equal protection.
In a press release, the ADF announced that the court has vowed to issue an order that Lawson will not be subjected to the city and state laws that could force her to photograph same-sex weddings or face crippling punishments.
According to Channel 3000, the judge stated that Lawson, who operates her studio mostly online and in her home, is exempted from the law because her business does not have a physical store front.
The ADF noted that the court has not yet officially released a preliminary injunction in the case, but it is expected to do so in the coming weeks.
“The court’s announcement has important implications for everyone in Wisconsin who values artistic freedom. It means that government officials must allow creative professionals without storefronts anywhere in the city and state the freedom to make their own decisions about which ideas they will use their artistic expression to promote,” said Scruggs.
“The court found—and the city and state have now agreed—that such professionals cannot be punished under public accommodation laws for exercising their artistic freedom because those laws simply don’t apply to them. No one should be threatened with punishment for having views that the government doesn’t favor,” he added.
Global Dispatch has noted that Madison has investigated at least 11 alleged violations involving sexual orientation or political beliefs since 2006. Additionally, at least nine businesses have been investigated by Wisconsin officials due to alleged violations of laws based on sexual orientation.
Those who are found to be in violation of Madison’s law are subject to fines up to $500 a day as well as liability for civil damages. Those who violate the state law can be fined up to $10,000 and be punished with business license suspension or revocation, as well as civil damages and punitive damages.