Judge Dismisses Studio 8 Lawsuit Against City & Three Individuals, Client of TFNLG

Studio 8 filed a lawsuit in Thirteenth Circuit Court against the City of Traverse City and individuals TFNLG client, Lee Maynard, and Marley (Maddie) Harris and Heather Spooner, all of whom complained to the MDCR. The lawsuit alleged those defendants deprived Studio 8 of its right to express its “sincerely held religious understanding that God created a man and a woman and that any other conception of a man and a woman violates God’s plan.” The lawsuit challenged both the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act – the state’s primary civil rights law – and Traverse City’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance. Studio 8 sought an immediate declaratory judgment in the case. Studio 8 claimed its religious and free speech rights were being violated by the trio, but those constitutionally guaranteed protections only apply to the government. The judge reiterated that in his ruling “there is no question that a private citizen independently reporting a claim of discrimination is a private, not a state actor.” Bailor Bell, the attorney for city resident Lee Maynard, said he was happy the judge vindicated Maynard’s position, plus that of Harris and Spooner. “Not only should this case be dismissed, but it’s a rare case of no legal merit,” Bell said.

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