Statement from ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson regarding Friday's decision in the Telescope Media Services case:
"The American Civil Liberties Union and American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota are concerned about the potential effect of a ruling issued today by a three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ACLU and ACLU-MN filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, supporting the position of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and Minnesota Attorney General. We believe that allowing companies to turn away same-sex couples who wish to purchase their wedding video services clearly violates the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, public services and education.
"While freedom of speech and religion are among our most fundamental rights, those freedoms do not give any of us the right to harm other people or to impose our beliefs on others. Discrimination has no place in our Constitution, and businesses can’t put up signs saying 'your kind not served here.' We decided as a nation to close that chapter of our history, which is why we have laws that ensure businesses don’t discriminate among customers based on who they are.
"Yet the ruling issued today would seek to overturn these fundamental principles, giving businesses a constitutional right to discriminate.
"As the dissent notes, 'the court carves out an exception of staggering breadth.' Carried to its logical and horrifying conclusion, this ruling would open the door to anyone who provides services to single out people based on sexual orientation, race, gender, religion or other identities by simply stating that they are expressing their free speech, when they in actuality are engaged in discriminatory conduct."