VOTE like your life depended on it.
Bill Barr
via Rolling Stone

The United States Department of Justice filed a “Statement of Interest” on Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky regarding Chelsey Nelson Photography v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government. Chelsey Nelson does not want to be obligated to photograph same-sex weddings.

According to the filing:

The United States is
committed to protecting the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, which include both
the right to “the free exercise” of religion and “the freedom of speech.”

Attorney General Barr is an Opus Deist (formerly associated with the Catholic Information Center). He defines Free Exercise very differently from what the founders intended. In fact he disagrees with the late Justice Scalia who said that there cannot be religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws (Employment Division v. Smith).

The central question presented in this case is whether the government can compel a
wedding photographer to photograph, provide photography editing services for, and blog about
weddings of which she does not approve, and does not wish to photograph or to promote. The
answer is no.

The brief goes on to claim that Nelson is being compelled to voice support for something that she does not approve of citing Janus v. Am. Fed’n of State, Cnty. & Mun. Emps., Council.

In that case the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that employees who were not members of a union could not be forced to pay union dues. Although the Court ruled that the dues amounted to impermissible compelled speech that is not at all similar to enforcement of a municipal nondiscrimination ordinance.

Religious conservatives insist that service equates to voicing approval.

The arguments are less relevant than the representation. The Department of Justice represents LGBTQ citizens and their families as well as conservative Christians. It had an obligation not to involve itself in a controversy.

The photographer might even have a reasonable argument. After all, she is required to attend the wedding and to use certain artistic skills.

I am not saying that I agree with her (I do not) but her argument is not from Neptune. I can argue forcefully in opposition because I believe that a public accommodation is subsidized by all of the taxpayers.

Furthermore, the identical “logic” could be applied to someone who did not approve of — and would not photograph — an interracial wedding. I will even go so far as to say that Nelson is an imbecile.

I fought my entire career to obtain business, not to turn it away (I can hear my late boyfriend making a sarcastic remark about Judaism).

About six years ago the Supreme Court declined to hear a nearly identical case (Elane Photography v. Willock). However, Trump has been able to appoint two people to the Supreme Court. I only hope that people remember that between now and next November and realize how important voting is to our very lives as an oppressed minority group.

Related content:

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.