Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Rachel Csutoros explains that Emilee Carpenter is a Christian photographer and blogger who wants to operate her business in accordance with her religious beliefs.
"She serves all people, but she does not create and promote all messages," Csutoros continues. "However, a New York law would force her to celebrate ceremonies that she believes violate her faith. And if she does not abide by this law, she could face fines up to $100,000 for each violation and then even up to a year in prison."
Last week, a federal district court ruled against Carpenter, saying that while her photography is speech, New York can compel her to speak messages that go against her religious beliefs.
"Free speech and free exercise of your religion are both guaranteed under the First Amendment," Csutoros notes. "The government really must respect Emilee's beliefs about marriage, but the New York laws really give Emilee this multiple choice test with really bad answers."
As it is now, Carpenter could either violate the law, violate her faith, or close her business.
The appeal will be filed in the Second Circuit, and ADF remains hopeful that the court will rule that Carpenter's religious beliefs should be protected.
"We also have a similar case that ADF has with a website designer, and that's currently going up to the Supreme Court," Csutoros adds. "The 10th Circuit said that … she would have to create messages that violated her religious freedom, and so we're very hopeful that the Supreme Court will take that case and find that she has the freedom to speak a message that she agrees with."
But whether it is a web designer and graphic artist like Lorie Smith in Colorado or a photographer and blogger like Emilee Carpenter in New York, ADF asserts that the Constitution protects people to freely live and work according to their religious beliefs.