Refuse to photograph a gay wedding? Pay up!

Soon, someone will file suit against the Catholic Church for refusing to marry a gay couple. Trust me, it’s coming. In New Mexico, the state Supreme Court has ruled a photography studio must pay more than $6,500 in attorney fees and court costs because the owners made the personal decision to not be hired by a gay couple to photograph a wedding.

What it comes down to is refusing to take a job can now be construed as a violation of someone’s human rights. Let’s be clear here, Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin – the owners of Elane Photography – did not go out and try to stop this wedding. They did not call other photographers and try to “black list” Vanessa Willock (the plaintiff) from getting services from other photographers. They simply said “no thank you” when Willock offered to do business with them. So much for having the freedom to associate with people you want to associate with. Here is the opinion from the court.

[1] By enacting the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA), NMSA 1978, §§ 28-1-1 to -13 (1969, as amended through 2007), the Legislature has made the policy decision to prohibit public accommodations from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation. Elane Photography, which does not contest its public accommodation status under the NMHRA, offers wedding photography services to the general public and posts its photographs on a password-protected website for its customers. In this case, Elane Photography refused to photograph a commitment ceremony between two women. The questions presented are (1) whether Elane Photography violated the NMHRA when it refused to photograph the commitment ceremony, and if so, (2) whether this application of the NMHRA violates either the Free Speech or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or (3) whether this application violates the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act (NMRFRA), NMSA 1978, §§ 28-22-1 to -5 (2000).

[2] First, we conclude that a commercial photography business that offers its services to the public, thereby increasing its visibility to potential clients, is subject to the antidiscrimination provisions of the NMHRA and must serve same-sex couples on the same basis that it serves opposite-sex couples. Therefore, when Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.

[3] Second, we conclude that the NMHRA does not violate free speech guarantees Willock referred to the event as a “commitment ceremony” in her e-mail to Elane Photography. However, the parties agree that the ceremony was essentially a wedding—Elane Photography emphasizes that there were vows, rings, a minister, flower girls, and a wedding dress, and Willock uses the word “wedding” to describe the ceremony in her brief. We use the terms “wedding” and “commitment ceremony” interchangeably. because the NMHRA does not compel Elane Photography to either speak a government mandated message or to publish the speech of another. The purpose of the NMHRA is to ensure that businesses offering services to the general public do not discriminate against protected classes of people, and the United States Supreme Court has made it clear that the First Amendment permits such regulation by states. Businesses that choose to be public accommodations must comply with the NMHRA, although such businesses retain their First Amendment rights to express their religious or political beliefs. They may, for example, post a disclaimer on their website or in their studio advertising that they oppose same-sex marriage but that they comply with applicable antidiscrimination laws. We also hold that the NMHRA is a neutral law of general applicability, and as such, it does not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

[4] Finally, we hold that the NMRFRA is inapplicable in this case because the government is not a party. For these reasons, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Justice Richard C. Bosson actually wrote…

In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship. I therefore concur.

So much for tolerance for the views of the Huguenins!

You can argue the company made a bad public relations move by refusing to accept money and be hired by the couple, but quite honestly, it’s their right to make a bad public relations move. Soon, gay and lesbian couples in New Mexico will be targeting past and current customers of Elane Photography and outright saying those customers are obviously bigots and homophobes since they hired a company that won’t photograph same-sex couples. They will demand they stop working with them.

Their goal here will be to destroy the business, plain and simple. It’s not about acceptance, it’s about shoving their own beliefs down the throat of the “non-believers” and having them embrace and support their lifestyle. Nothing else will be acceptable.

Hat tip to Sterling Beard at NRO.

11 replies
  1. ClayEight3
    ClayEight3 says:

    Could I sue if?I asked Elane Photography to take?photos of my wedding next year and they declided?? Can I claim heterosexual discrimination?? If not am I not allowed to sue because I’m straight.? I’m kinda serious about this becuase it t seems unfair they can sue becuase they? are gay and I’m not.? And if I can sue just because they don’t want to take my business, that seems wrong too.

  2. stinkfoot
    stinkfoot says:

    I’m postulating that we can throw equal protection under the law out the window if the precedent is set where for legal contortions be performed to indulge certain groups.? We have government that mandates individuals to purchase a service with their own money (Obamacare) and now we have government ordering a private business to provide a service to a “minority” where it would not do so otherwise.? Frankly, we’re seeing components of tyranny and as a whole not recognizing it.

  3. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    I would have taken the “easy” way out: “I am booked up and cannot take another assignment”. But that seems to be too simple and lacking drama.

      • stinkfoot
        stinkfoot says:

        I think that the narrative is purposefully leading us in that direction when we in fact do not know that the owners didn’t take Sammy’s route.? The quoted piece merely states that they said, “no, thank you”.? The court seems to have taken it upon itself to draw inferences and we are supposed to as well.

  4. Gary J
    Gary J says:

    Ah yes socialism s0prinkled with a little pixiecourt dust. Ya had to know it was coming. next court case might be closing the door on a door to door salesman/woman.

  5. ricbee
    ricbee says:

    We are no longer a nation of laws,every judge in the USA thinks he can do whatever he or she(female judges are the worst)feels like without fear-they can & do.? Corrupticut is the worst of the states.

  6. JollyRoger
    JollyRoger says:

    Why is there not so much respect for gun owners- shouldn’t respect of gun owners also be a price we pay for citizenship? ?Sammy, do you concur? ?:)?

  7. bien-pensant
    bien-pensant says:

    “Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice.
    This seems a good way to sum up the disconnect between reality and the utopian goals of the progressive democrats. Right thinkers see this as a right of association, yet the lefties see this as human rights?
    ?Could a Christian owned paving business be sued for not taking a paving job at a mosque? (Similar wacky comparisons abound.)
    This protected group stuff is so 1960s. I thought we have made enough *progress* to not need *newthink* laws, a la, voting rights. What happens when WASPS become a minority?

  8. SeeingRed
    SeeingRed says:

    Amoral people legislating morality – all met with a yawn by a (very) dumbed down public.? The end is truly near.

Comments are closed.