The New Mexico Supreme Court said today a couple must compromise their religious beliefs and photograph same-sex ceremonies.
Elaine Huguenin runs Elane Photography in Albuquerque with her husband, Jonathan. In 2006, she declined Vanessa Willock’s request to photograph a “commitment ceremony.” New Mexico has not created same-sex marriages or same-sex civil unions.
“This decision is a blow to our client and every American’s right to live free,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “Decisions like this undermine the constitutionally protected freedoms of expression and conscience that we have all taken for granted.”
Even though Willock found another photographer, she filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission. In 2008, the commission ordered Huguenin to pay $6,637.94 to Willock saying she violated the state’s “sexual orientation” discrimination law.
ADF appealed the commission’s decision. In 2012, the state Supreme Court agreed to review the case.
Justice Richard C. Bosson released a document accompanying the decision in which he at first appears to support the photographer’s freedom — but then it turns out, he does not.
“The Huguenins … now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” he writes. “Though the rule of the law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.
“On a larger scale,” he continues, “this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice.”
“Government-coerced expression is a feature of dictatorships that has no place in a free country,” he explains. “America was founded on the fundamental freedom of every citizen to live and work according to their beliefs and not to be compelled by the government to express ideas and messages they decline to support.
“We are considering our next steps, including asking the U.S. Supreme Court to right this wrong.”