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Christian Photographers Must Shoot Gay Weddings

A district judge in New Mexico has affirmed a state Civil Rights Commission order that a small photography company pay $6,600 for refusing to violate the owners' Christian beliefs by photographing a lesbian "ceremony," even though same-sex marriage isn't legal in the state.

Word of the decision by District Judge Alan M. Malott comes from the Alliance Defense Fund, which promised an immediate appeal of the decision against the Christian photographer and her husband.

Interestingly, both sides seem to disagree with the ruling. From Queerty.com, " I wouldn't want to see a court rule against a gay photographer who, on moral grounds, refused to take the business of a religious fundamentalist and homophobic couple. Because religion is a protected class, just like sexual orientation."

From WorldNetDaily, ""Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy? American small business owners do not surrender their constitutional rights at the marketplace gate, nor can the government make people choose between their faith and their livelihood."

During the recent battle over proposition 8 in California, it was claimed that proposition 8 would have no effect on photographers. Opponents of proposition 8 cited this case as proof that it might.

The case developed in 2006 when Willock asked Elaine Huguenin, co-owner with her husband, Jon Huguenin, of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, to photograph a "ceremony" that Willock and another woman wanted to hold in Taos. Neither marriage nor civil unions are legal between members of the same sex in New Mexico.

There are implications here which photographers should be aware of. 

Do you agree/disagree? Let us know in the comments.

Email the author at travis@manhartphotography.com or visit www.ManhartPhotography.com, or my blog here.

If you liked this article you can read more at Sacramento Photography Examiner.

Comments

  • Brian 4 years ago

    I absolutely agree. When you serve the public, you are required to serve them equally, you don't get to hide behind religion to justify discrimination. Just like what happened to that justice of the peace who refused to marry an interracial couple. Anyone can cry..."oh, it's against my sincerely held religious beliefs...so I can't" for just about anything. Do we start allowing people to pick and choose which laws they follow? If the law says we cannot discriminate agaist people for whatever reason, then we follow that law. End of story.

  • Vushnick 3 years ago

    Although, why would you as the client, want to spend thousands of dollars on a photographer who's heart isn't into your event? It's just as much a business-owners right to refuse service as it is your right as the client to take your business elsewhere. Just because someone is in business for something does not mean they HAVE to accept any job that walks in the door. Once we start litigating that sort of thing we cease being a free country.

  • Sandy 4 years ago

    I totally agree with Brian.

  • Dale8 4 years ago

    When you set up a business in a state or district that has non-discrimination laws that include LGBT people, you have to abide by them. What's hard to understand about that? This story carries more drama than the heartbreak of a pimply teenager.

    Note to Travis, never quote WorldNetDaily, the faux news site that gave us the 'birther' movement. It cuts your credibility by 90%.

  • Jo 4 years ago

    As other posters have pointed out...

    Even if you support discrimination against gays and lesbians on religious grounds, you have to admit it is a slippery slope. If the state were to allow such discrimination, how would it say no to a Christian restaurant owner who said he didn't want to serve Jews on religious grounds? A Muslim owner of a department store who said he didn't want to permit Christians in his store on religious grounds? A white Christian photographer who said he didn't want to photograph an interracial wedding on religious grounds? They could not object due to the precedent set by permitting discrimination here.

    People's prejudicial animus towards gays and lesbians make this case seem more complicated than it is. Substitute any other minority group and you'll see what a dangerous precedent is set.

    And again, even if you whole-heartedly support discrimination against gays and lesbians, you must acknowledge that allowing such sets dangerous precedents for others.

  • Joseph 4 years ago

    Throw the christian photographer and her husband to the lions, just as was done for thousands of years.

  • LesK 4 years ago

    Yes, WorldNetDaily should be avoided. You should depend on the factual-based sites like HuffPo or anything from oh so lovely Rachel Maddow;-) That's credibility--if you're a lib-lemming.

  • Marco Luxe 4 years ago

    The photographer was supremely unprofessional, as she contracted in advance with a client to shoot a specific and unique event. She then cancelled at the last minute on religionist grounds leaving the client in a panic. How's that for "morality"? Of course, she could have declined to contract for the job on nearly any legal grounds, but she is either an idiot, or the foolish tool of radical theocrats.

  • Dale8 4 years ago

    Yes, LesK, Huffington Post and Maddows have left leanings but they also pass fact checking with flying colors... not so much for wnd.

    But what are facts to the rightwing fringe?

  • Robguy 4 years ago

    "During the recent battle over proposition 8 in California, it was claimed that proposition 8 would have no effect on photographers. Opponents of proposition 8 cited this case as proof that it might"

    .. with the opponents being continually confused .. As the "no effect" was clear in that discrimination of this sort was already covered by civil rights laws. In this case in particular, the event was not a legal civil marriage no matter the personal significance to the couple. The photographers were simply acting from their disgust that a couple of lesbians should be given their professional respect.

  • Tammie 4 years ago

    Then follow the ultimate law, which is "For this reason man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh". The creator of Heaven and earth knew what he was doing when he made male for female and female for male. Just because you may believe or feel otherwise will not make the word of the almighty non effect. Creation in itself testifies of God and his order. Now you want us to believe and accept this lie that its ok for man to be with man and woman to be with woman. How would we know right from wrong , if the creator of life hadn't told us. We didn't create ourselves nor this world, so why do you think you can just do whatever you feel. God created life and the world with rules and laws for us to abide by just as we do with our own companies. The problem with us as humans is that we think living in this land is a free for all without any consequences of going oustide what God has established. But there are and we will answer to God! End!

  • MRD 2 years ago

    If the Photographer agreed and then cancelled, thats one thing, but to simply say I don't want to take photos of this because I don't like it is totally fine. What's wrong with having one's own beliefs? That's what makes us who we are. If you run a business you can refuse to serve someone. Laws are not here to force people into doing things. They are here to protect us from one anothers harm. Refusing service is simply a form of freedom of speech.

    I don't think I'd want to take photos of something which advocates murder, so does the murderer have the right to be upset with me? What's with this world now-a-days?

  • Phil 2 years ago

    Call it whatever you want, but I'm a wedding photographer in Washington State (where gay marriage was just passed) and I'll never shoot a gay wedding. If I get sued, I won't pay a dime. It's my right to refuse to shoot a gay ceremony, just like I can refuse to shoot nude or risqué pictures (of which I've already turned down many sessions). I won't bow down to the left wing nut jobs that are trying to force everyone under their control. My religious rights are protected under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Nothing in the constitution says it's discrimination to refuse services to a homosexual ceremony. In fact, until 1960 it was illegal in all 50 states to perform a homosexual act.

  • Sam 11 months ago

    I was just talking to my husband a few months ago (hypothetically) about what I would say/do if this situation (a gay/lesbian couple wanting me to cover their ceremony) happened to me in the future and they threatened to sue me if I refuse. From my experience, I actually have photographed a lesbian couple before. A mother contacted me to take photos of her family because her son was leaving for 2 years, and she really wanted a picture of them all together. I happened to know this family, and I knew that she had a lesbian daughter, and I knew there was a good chance she would bring her girlfriend since the other married siblings were bringing their significant other. I didn't exclude couple; after I took pictures of the sons/daughters with their significant other, I took pictures of the daughter and girlfriend. But it was my *choice.* I could have said no. As a photographer, I am a contractor, hence why we have contracts that both parties must agree to. I am NOT a Walmart service provider where anyone can walk in, find something/one they like, and say, "Hey, you. I want you to do this, so I'm buying you here and now." Umm, no. It has to be a mutual agreement. I don't offer boudoir sessions because it's my choice, and the reason why I don't is because it makes me uncomfortable. Honestly, I wouldn't be comfortable doing a gay wedding, and as such I don't feel I would give them the best photos, so I can choose not to accept their offer and their business. That IS my right.

  • Tom 4 months ago

    Most immigrants come to the US to escape persecution and to exercise their belief system this is a clear violation of this person belief. At least that what they tell you the constitution all about. If he wants discriminate let the money will go to one who doesn’t discriminate. I sure there is more than one photographer in that city.

  • Jason 3 months ago

    Let me see if I have this correct:

    Muslims do not have to drive people with dogs or alcohol in their taxi cabs or handle pork products in gorcery stores or restaurants but Christians who think it is against their beliefs to take pictures at gay weddings are not allowed to do so.

    Ever hear of unequal rights?

    Pick on Christians is that what it is all coming to?

    Hate and pick on Christians only?

    Gay rights to me is that gays have a right not to be hurt. Gay rights is the fact that gays are actually murdered in countries like Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, United Arab Emirites. I do believe in spreading gay rights to where they really have none.

    We should be tolerant of those who like gay marriage and tolerant of those who don't. It was not that long ago that President Obama said he was against gay marriage.

  • John Braker 3 months ago

    Muslim taxi cab drivers refuse customers with alcohol or dogs, refuse to handle pork at a grocery store or restaurant....that's all okay...but,

    God forbid! A Christian refusing anyone anything.....

    This double standard has got to stop. If a Muslim can forbid customers they don't want then a Christian can do so also. I don't care if if goes the other way, but there needs to be equal justice for all and that is not what this is.

    Either allow the Christian to refuse or arrest the Muslims who help customers because they say it is against their religion.

    America is dead.

    America is about equal justice for all. This is the opposite.

    .

  • Ninata 3 months ago

    Let take the religion spot, I believe everyone has a right to say NO to everything. If you say EQUAL ten where is the equal right for people who say NO.

  • Tasha 2 months ago

    That's right, Christian photographers should also be forced to videotape and direct sex tapes, because if that's what someone wants to hire them for, they HAVE to do it whether it's against their religion or not! Your logic is WHACK!

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