Religious FreedomPrint

Wisconsin: Favorable Court Decision for Wedding Photographer

Wisconsin Family Action is one of 40 state groups allied with Family Policy Alliance.

A Wisconsin judge says a work-from-home photographer does not have to comply with city and state “public accommodations” laws that might have forced her to photograph same-sex weddings.

“This is a huge win for free speech in Wisconsin,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action. “No one should be threatened with punishment for having views that the government doesn’t favor.”

Earlier this year Amy Lawson, a professional photographer and blogger who works out of her Madison home, filed what is known as a “pre-enforcement challenge” lawsuit against the City of Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, alleging that the city’s public accommodations ordinance and the state’s public accommodations law prohibit her from conducting her business, Amy Lynn Photography Studio, according to the dictates of her conscience and beliefs. Lawson argued the ordinance and law even force her to use her creative expression in support of activities she doesn’t agree with, including same-sex marriage and abortion.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Neiss determined in a court hearing in the case Amy Lynn Photography Studio v. City of Madison that he would issue an order that declares Lawson and her home-based business are not subject to the city’s public accommodations ordinance or the state’s public accommodations law. Both the state and the city agreed to this resolution.

“What this decision means,” Appling explained, “is that creative professionals in Wisconsin and in Madison, those who, like Amy, don’t have storefronts, have the freedom to determine what ideas they will promote using their artistic talents. In other words, the City of Madison and the State of Wisconsin can’t punish these professionals for exercising their freedom of speech artistically, even if the city or state disagrees with what they are saying.”