Court signals religious freedom victory for artist

Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

MADISON, Wisc. (BP) — A self-employed evangelical Christian photographer can reject job requests based on her religious beliefs against same-sex marriage, a Wisconsin county court and government officials have agreed.

Judge Richard Niess of the Dane County Circuit Court agreed Monday (Aug. 1) to sign an order within coming weeks signifying that city and state public accommodation laws do not apply to photographer and blogger Amy Lynn Lawson, the sole owner of Amy Lynn Photography Studio in Madison, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Lawson works on commission and does not have a physical storefront.
The ruling has no bearing on similar religious liberty cases of two other business owners represented by Lawson’s attorneys, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), as those businesses are based outside Wisconsin.

Lawson filed suit against the City of Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development in March after a customer complained about a statement on Lawson’s website refusing to photograph same-sex weddings, according to ADF. Such ceremonies counter Lawson’s religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, Lawson said on her website. Photographing them, she noted, would infringe upon her right to control her individual artistic expression.

While Lawson was never sued nor charged with a crime, she feared the ramifications of the city and state laws, dropped the statement from her website and began refusing all wedding photography requests, ADF said in a description of the case on its website.