A commercial photography business owned by opponents of same-sex marriage violated New Mexico’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to take pictures of a gay couple’s commitment ceremony, the state’s highest court ruled Thursday.

In an unanimous decision, the state Supreme Court said the business’s refusal in 2006 to photograph the ceremony involving two women violated New Mexico’s Human Rights Act “in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

The court’s ruling came after the Doña Ana County clerk on Wednesday began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, although state law doesn’t explicitly prohibit or authorize gay marriage.

Elaine Huguenin, who owns Elane Photography with her husband and is the business’s principal photographer, refused to photography the ceremony because it violated her religious beliefs.

The court rejected arguments that the anti-discrimination law violated the photographer’s right to free speech and the free exercise of religious beliefs.

A lawyer for the business, Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom, sharply criticized the ruling and said an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is under consideration.

“Government-coerced expression is a feature of dictatorships that has no place in a free country,” Lorence said in a statement. “This decision is a blow to our client and every American’s right to live free.”

Justice Richard Bosson wrote that the business owners “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 a people,” Bosson wrote in an opinion concurring with the court’s ruling. “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.”

The court said a business could declare in its advertising that it opposes same-sex marriage, but it has to comply with the anti-discrimination law

Vanessa Wilcock and her partner found another photographer to shoot their ceremony, but an anti-discrimination claim was filed with the state Human Rights Commission, which determined that Huguenin’s studio violated state law.

(5) comments

Scott Masters

Without the right to follow the dictates of one's conscience, the 1st Amendment is meaningless. It's ludicrous to think that someone who is more than willing to photograph gay people but who objects to a specific event or behavior is discriminating against them for them being gay.

Imagine that a well-known "adult" actress wishes to get some photos made with her boyfriend. The photographer is happy to do so with no regard to their life choices, their sexual inclinations or anything of the sort. Now imagine the same actress asks the photographer to take nude photos of them or to do a full-on porn shoot. Does the photographer have the right to turn down this photo shoot?

Not by the logic of the NM Supreme Court.

Claude Hayward

As a business owner providing tangible service on a case-by-case basis, I can avoid working for people I don't like by simply not having time in my schedule, or quoting a high price that induces the prospective client to find a better price. I think it's my own responsibility to check out prospective clients so I know exactly what the job will entail. Give 'em a smile, and a thank you for calling and send them on their way. No need at all to inflict my views on them and cause offense.

Ditto for the client couple; wedding photographers are a dime a dozen in the Yellow Pages, no need to inflict their views on someone not receptive to them, and I would hope that all potential clients seeking services would do their own due diligence as to who they want to support with their business.

Or perhaps both parties here were out to play "Gotcha!" and they got to have their public test case. I have little doubt that the photographer's legal costs were fully underwritten by outside ideological interests eager to have this fight. I have no insight into the financial status of the marrying couple or what aid they may have received.

mark mocha

Are you sure you weren't present at the inquisition? Another example of someone hiding hate and bigotry behind a well thought out but ultimately flawed arguement. The courts made the right decision, a decision that you will see more and more of in the coming weeks/months/years and it is about time. These people who only want the same rights the rest of us (you included) take for granted have done nothing to you yet you would deny them these rights based on your hatred and fear of them. Just let it go, let go of your hate and fear. You are on the losing side of this debate.

J JM

Stating the facts concerning homosexuality and same-sex behavior and an intellectually honest interpretation of those facts is neither "hateful" nor "bigoted;"however, denying those facts and making adhominem and baseless attacks in response, as you have, mark mocha, most definitely is.

Indeed, making such meritless attacks, exposes the deep dishonesty, hypocrisy, and selfish narcississm on which "gay marriage" is based because it proves how proponents of this harmful concept - not the opponents - are the ones who are truly bigoted, intolerant, and hateful.

Now if you disagree, offer a fact-based rebuttal, using reputable, peer-reviewed sources, as I have, proving me wrong. If you don't or refuse and offer an implausible and self-serving reason for not doing so, it will only prove me right and you and other proponents of "gay marriage" wrong.

Kate Sjostrand

Aw, yes, the old "you're a bigot cuz you don't let me discriminate" argument ... figured it was only a function of time ...

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.