As many of our readers will attest to we have been covering this particular case since Day One of its inception. For background information please see here, here, and here. (Please click any one of the “here’s” for additional articles.)
A ruling from Judge Tim L. Garcia in the New Mexico Court of Appeals says states can require Christians to violate their faith in order to do business, affirming a penalty of nearly $7,000 for a photographer who refused to take pictures at a lesbian “commitment” ceremony in the state where same-sex “marriage” was illegal.
The other two judges joined in the ruling by Garcia, which involved Elane Photography, whose owners, Elaine and Jonathan Huegeunin, are Christians and declined to do photography for lesbians Vanessa Willock and another woman.
The women complained and subsequently sued under the state’s anti-discrimination requirements and a state commission, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, imposed the penalty, which now has been affirmed by the appeals court judges. The judges explained in the 45-page ruling that the photography company is a “public accommodation” and those cannot discriminate under state law based on “sexual orientation.” (Oh! That is wonderful…what the Hades is a public accommodation?)
“The owners of Elane Photography must accept the reasonable regulations and restrictions imposed upon the conduct of their commercial enterprise despite their personal religious beliefs that may conflict with these governmental interests,” the judges wrote.
Officials with the Alliance Defense Fund, which has been representing Elane, said there would be an appeal.
“Americans in the marketplace should not be subjected to legal attacks for simply abiding by their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy?
Of course not, and neither should the government force this photographer to promote a message that violates her conscience. Because the U.S. Constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling artists to promote a message they disagree with, we will certainly appeal this decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court.”
It started in 2006 when Willock asked Elaine Huguenin to take pictures at her “commitment” ceremony. It was in 2009 when the ADF appealed a trial judge’s ruling in favor of the lesbians.
“Services, facilities and accommodations are available to the general public through a variety of resources. Elane Photography takes advantage of these available resources to market to the public at large and invite them to solicit services offered by its photography business,” the judges explained.
They cited the idea of a KKK rally asking a black photographer to supply his work, and the photographer refusing. Could then the KKK cite racial discrimination?
“The Ku Klux Klan is not a protected class,” opined the judges. “Sexual orientation, however, is protected.”
This is an egregious and rather erroneous aspect of the judges’ mindset. Although the KKK is not a protect class, the useable law nonetheless protects the black photographer insofar as racial discrimination is a protected class. This is what has been going on in this kangaroo court.
The judges continued, “The act of photographing a same-sex ceremony does not express any opinions regarding same-sex commitments, or disseminate a personal message about such ceremonies.” And it may not; however, where is it written in law that one must disclose their prayers or religious beliefs? There simply isn’t any. It is very much as if this Appeals court is attempting to compare apples to oranges.
They called the state requirement “a neutral regulation of commercial conduct” and said that it does not “infringe upon freedom of speech or compel unwanted expression.” Again just so they know…this is not or has ever been a case about freedom of speech or expression. This is however a case of one exercising another portion of their First Amendment rights pursuant to the “Free exercise” clause of the amendment. Furthermore, it has very much to do with the “Establishment” of religion clause as well.
The judges wrote that the photography company’s claim of protection under the state constitution’s requirement that “no person shall ever be molested or denied any civil or political right or privilege on account of his religious opinion” was not applicable.
The judges suggested the interesting scenario of the photographer accepting the job, and vocally condemning the women while taking pictures. Although this is clearly a hypothetical, it is apparent that the judges are legislating from the bench.
“The owners are free to express their religious beliefs and tell Willock or anyone else what they think about same-sex relationships and same-sex ceremonies,” they said. Furthermore, we believe this to be an absolute mockery! Sue the photography company for sexual orientation and then advise the same to confront the lesbians? (Click here for more of story…)
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