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Another Case Of Forced To Work Against Morals And Conscience.

Photographer Amy Lawson (courtesy, appropriately, Amy Lawson)

Amy Lawson is a photographer and blogger out of Madison, Wisconsin. She runs a studio out of her home called “Amy Lynn Photography Studio.”

Lawson is a devout Christian who believes “she felt God calling her to use her artistic gifts to create and promote visual stories depicting God’s beauty in the world around us.”

But there are other “gods” in this world who believe that people like Lawson should have to work and perform contrary to their moral conscience and religious beliefs.

We call those “gods” “legislators.”

Lawson wants the freedom to create and work as an artist.

But Madison’s and Wisconsin’s public accommodation laws forbid that freedom. Madison’s law (City Code § 39.03(5)) makes it illegal for public accommodations to deny “equal enjoyment” because of someone’s sexual orientation or political beliefs or to publish “any communication” that denies facilities or that conveys a person’s patronage is “unwelcome, objectionable or unacceptable” because of someone’s sexual orientation or political beliefs. Wisconsin’s law (Wis. Stat. § 106.52) does the same regarding sexual orientation.

Furthermore,….

…. the laws also forbid creative professionals from posting a statement on their website explaining that the artist reserves discretion not to use their artistic talents to promote messages or causes that are inconsistent with their deepest convictions, even though business owners in these professions frequently decline projects for these reasons. The laws therefore bar Lawson from publishing a statement that says she cannot promote pro-abortion organizations or same-sex marriage because of her religious, political, and artistic beliefs.

Lawson joined forces with the Alliance Defending Freedom who filed a complaint with Circuit Court in Wisconsin.

According to the ADF, Lawson won her suit.

“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. 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.”

However, to us, the reason the court agreed with Lawson is somewhat troubling:

….Dane County Circuit Court’s announcement at a hearing Tuesday in Amy Lynn Photography Studio v. City of Madison that it will issue an order declaring that Amy Lawson and her business are not subject to city and state laws that would otherwise control her artistic freedom because she does not have a physical storefront.

We will wait to see the publication of the decision, but this seems odd to us.

Lawson makes money from her venture. She is in business. Instead of affirming her right to not have to act against her beliefs and moral conscience, the Court said the law doesn’t apply to her because she doesn’t have a storefront.

It almost seems as if the Court believes freedom is dependent on bricks.

That’s nuts.

We have talked about this before. If you want someone to create something, the artist should not have to create things that are contrary to their beliefs. The Wisconsin law goes further than many states in that it also demands that people not turn down jobs based on political beliefs. That means a liberal copywriter would be forced to write a speech for Donald Trump. A Jewish graphic designer would have to design flyers for neo-Nazis. A pro-choice marketer would have to accept work from a pro-life group.

In a strange way, can you imagine going back in time and having forced British Tories to sell muskets and shot to those Americans rebelling against the Crown during the American Revolution?

Can you imagine the North being forced to sell gunpowder to the South during the Civil War? Or even commissioning a blacksmith to make irons and chains in which to keep slaves?

No one would support such ideas and yet that is what Wisconsin is saying with their ridiculous laws.

Unfortunately, instead of the Court saying to the legislature, “you’re nuts and we won’t infringe on people’s freedom,” the Court said “no brick and mortar, no law being broken.”

We certainly are glad Lawson one this case. However the ruling does not support the idea of the freedom of ideas and expression.

All it does is give the legislature a “loophole” in the law to plug.

We never see freedoms and rights as “loopholes,” but then again, we aren’t legislators or Courts.



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