New Mexico took the South out of Southwest when it told Christian photographers that they could not discriminate against gay couples when shooting photos of weddings and commitment ceremonies.
A New Mexico court against Elane Photography, saying the God-loving photographers there had indeed violated the state's antidiscrimination laws when they refused to photograph a gay couple's commitment ceremony, but only after finding out they were homosexuals.
According to court documents filed this week, Vanessa Willock's partner sent Elane Photography an e-mail about the upcoming ceremony without
disclosing her sexual orientation. She then she received a response with pricing
information and an offer to meet with photographers.
But when the photography studio found out that they would be snapping photos of two women in love, well, that made head photographer Elaine Huguenin uncomfortable in that Ted Haggard sort of way.
According to the claim:
Elane Photography's owners are Christians who believe that marriage is a sacred union of one man and one woman. They also believe that photography is an artistically expressive form of communication and photographing a same-sex commitment ceremony would disobey God and the teachings of the Bible by communicating a message contrary to their religious and personal beliefs.Willock then complained to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission in
2006, which concluded that not photographing the wedding would be disobeying the state's antidiscrimination laws. The commission ordered Elane to pay Willock more than $6,600 in
Elane Photography appealed the decision, which was denied by a New Mexico judge. The Christian photographers then took their case to the Court of Appeals, which determined that the photography studio is a "public accommodation" and can't refuse customers based on their sexual orientation.
The New Mexico Human Rights Act expansively defines a public
accommodation as any establishment that provides or offers its services,
facilities, accommodations or goods to the public, according to the