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 Willockâ€™s request to photograph a â€œcommitment ceremony.â€ New Mexico has not created same-sex marriages or same-sex civil unions.
â€œThis decision is a blow to our client and every Americanâ€™s right to live free,â€ said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. â€œDecisions like this undermine the constitutionally protected freedoms of expression and conscience that we have all taken for granted.â€
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 stateâ€™s â€œsexual orientationâ€ discrimination law.
ADF appealed the commissionâ€™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 photographerâ€™s freedom â€” but then it turns out, he does not.
â€œThe Huguenins â€¦ now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,â€ he writes. â€œThough 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.
â€œOn a larger scale,â€ he continues, â€œthis case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice.â€
â€œGovernment-coerced expression is a feature of dictatorships that has no place in a free country,â€ he explains. â€œAmerica 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.
â€œWe are considering our next steps, including asking the U.S. Supreme Court to right this wrong.â€