A photographer opposed to same-sex
marriage has filed a lawsuit challenging Louisville, Kentucky's
Fairness Ordinance, a 20-year-old law that prohibits discrimination
based on several characteristics including sexual orientation and
Chelsey Nelson, the owner of Chelsey
Nelson Photography, is represented by the Christian conservative
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
Nelson claims that the ordinance is
forcing her to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies that she
The city is using “the threat of
limitless damages” to force Nelson to “create photographs for,
blog about, and participate in solemn ceremonies she disagrees with –
same-sex wedding ceremonies,” the lawsuit states.
“For Chelsey, the choice is simple
yet stark – violate the law, forsake her faith, or close her
business,” the suit adds. “These options are unacceptable.”
In a USA Today op-ed, Nelson
said that while she serves “everyone regardless of who they are,”
she can't photograph every wedding request. “For example, I can't
celebrate a wedding that devalues how seriously I take marriage –
like a heavily themed Halloween or zombie-themed wedding.”
“The government shouldn't force
artists to express views they disagree with,” she
Defendants named in the lawsuit include
Louisville Metro Government and Louisville Metro Human Relations
Nelson's ADF lawyers said that she has
not been asked by a same-sex couple to photograph their wedding.
Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness
Campaign, a Kentucky LGBT advocacy group, called the lawsuit
“This has been an instrumental part
of civil rights laws since the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964,"
"And so to challenge it today,
nearly 60 years after the Civil Rights Act passed, and 20 years after
the Fairness Ordinance passed, is ludicrous and speaks to how low the
Alliance Defending Freedom is willing to go to undermine LGBTQ civil
rights and in fact, civil rights for all people,” he said.