A Unanimous Decision for Equality

When a business opens its doors to the public it must comply with anti-discrimination laws, even if doing so offends a business owner's religious beliefs. That's the bottom line in today's unanimous decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court holding that a photography business cannot discriminate against a same-sex couple by refusing, because of the owner's faith, to photograph the couple's commitment ceremony.

In 2006, Vanessa Willock attempted to hire Elane Photography in Albuquerque, NM, to photograph a commitment ceremony that she and her partner were planning. Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography, turned Willock away, refusing to provide services, claiming that doing so would violate her Christian beliefs.

Today's opinion recognizes the sincerity of those beliefs, but makes clear that no one's religious beliefs make it okay to break the law by discriminating against others. In a concurring opinion, Justice Bosson writes:

The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.

In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. The sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world.

We couldn't have said it better.

Unfortunately, this case is part of a cluster of cases across the country: a florist in Washington State, a cake maker in Colorado, an inn in Illinois, among others. In each, a business owner claims a religious objection to serving a same-sex couple; in each, these businesses are violating long-standing anti-discrimination laws designed to protect us in the marketplace. Local businesses play a vital role in our economy and in our communities; that's why it is so important that they follow the law by serving customers and not judging them because of who they are. No one should have to face the humiliation of being turned away because of their sexual orientation, race, gender, or disability. As the court held, "[W]hen Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated [state law] in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races." We are hopeful that today's unanimous decision can help put an end to this type of discrimination in the marketplace and move us closer to a nation that respects and honors everyone's humanity.

Learn more about LGBT discrimination and other civil liberties issues: Sign up for breaking news alertsfollow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

View comments (8)
Read the Terms of Use

Roger Cotton

No one has a Natural Right to my labor, products, or services.

Pervert the Constitution, but we will not comply.


What ever happened to those signs that read, "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone."? Why are we as Americans forced to accept homosexuality when we believe it is not only unnatural but morally wrong. Why aren't our beliefs and freedoms of religion protected? Why do gays have parades to advertise what they do in the bedroom? Do you ever see heterosexuals having parades to advertise what they do in the bedroom? Gays don't want Christian beliefs forced on them so will the ACLU protect Christians' rights? What if Christians don't want the gay lifestyle taught in the same schools where their kids go? Isn't that the same thing as gays or Muslims not wanting Christians teaching God's word in their schools? If gays want to be treated as equals, they should stop asking for special rights, privileges, and benefits that straight people don't get.


Don't businesses have a clause that says "We reserve the right to refuse business to anyone?"


All this company needed to do was charge the couple $1,000,000.00 for doing the ceremony. All then all the couple needed to do was pay for the service if they wanted it. After all this is a free enterprise nation correct.....

Mackerel Snapper

The simple fact of the matter is, in these cases, the anti-discrimination laws, are in fact discriminating against a group, Christians who take their religion seriously and who do not want to support gay "marriage". In fact, these laws run counter to the spirit of the Constitution, in which Congress is enjoined against abridging people's Freedom of Religion, which is really the first freedom, the freedom of following one's conscience. This is part of a larger effort to build a wall around the practice of religion until it is shut out of the larger public conversation, so it becomes limited to a quaint practice conducted within four walls of a church, and irrelevant to the public conversation as a whole. Freedom of religion is under serious assault in this country, and not unexpectedly, the ACLU is leading the charge.


So homosexuals are at liberty to "marry" whomever they choose, but photographers are not at liberty to photograph whomever they choose? When did "liberty" get redefined to mean, "when we disagree, I am free to make you do what I want, but you cannot impose the same standard on me."?

Sounds like the logic of a 4 year old. That reminds me of a great line I once heard about what a judge really is..."a good lawyer who was liked by a politician". Putting on a black robe doesn't make one logical.

Would this same president require a gay photographer to photograph an ex-gay's graduation from "reparative therapy"?

Dianna Geipe la...

I do home care for a man who is bi sexual. The officials in this state and Ritchie County. have all but succeeded in running him out of his own home, although the one sheriff officer did come to him one day and advised him to sell his property and move out of this county all together. They have locked him up, they have took him to the state police barracks and one state trooper started walking around wearing a woman's wig and mocking him. His family has disowned him over it and I do not see where the problem is. He has lived here for about 14 years and the memories of his mother who passed away in 2007 is what keeps him here, she stood beside him and supported him, now only I do. I did some research here and found out a lot. There was a man who owned a beautiful antique shop in Pennsboro WV who was gay, they actually c
chased him out of town. I am searching to find him now to get the details. Also a man who was gay and one of the best workers at the little general store, so polite and kind to the customers, he got chased out also. This man I do home care for has mental and physical disabilities and this has put him in such depression he doesn't even want to go outside much now, and this is in the country where I was suppose to be able to get him back out for nature walks and such. The fresh air is good for the soul and it seems we are inside more than ever now. I checked the registry on the people here. Out of 2,400 citizens, this man is the only one left here that is more feminine than masculine. He doesn't go out parading it but they have even come into his home and searched, with assault rifles and no warrant. I tell him to stand his ground but they are more aggressive every day. I got him to take me to the store one evening to get a few groceries(evening is better for him, he says less people see him) he went to the little general to get cigarettes while I shopped the dollar store to get a few things cheaper, this was on the 16th of August, the sheriff officers started harassing him right inside the store and followed him outside and across the parking lot to there store where I was, he came in and got me, I ran outside to take pictures on my phone of them following him. When they seen me taking the photos they left. He has gave me permission to start trying to get together a support group here and maybe have some gatherings and rallies here for people that are going through the same thing. I am straight but I believe a person has the right to be who they truly feel they are inside and to be happy. Life is too short to waste on being miserable every day all day. This is a very kind man and he would do anything to help a person. I have so much evidence to what they have done to him on a continuous basis and can't get any justice for him here. How do you stand up to so many corrupt people


Quelle surprise! Another left-wing ACLU Jew pees on Christians! It's always the J-Team!

If I lived in NM, I would have a new hobby: Forcing that jerk NM Supreme Court judge to set aside HIS beliefs for my convenience!

It's just about time to say to hell with the ballot box (which the ACLU works day and night to render useless as they strive to steal elections for the Left) and reach for the cartridge box!!

No prizes for guessing a LOT of people will be forced to leave the country!

Stay Informed