Photographer Forced to Shoot LGBT Weddings, Appeals to Supreme Court

Current Events November 12th 2013 12:43 PM 261 Comments


As an entrepreneur do you have the right to refuse service to a customer for any given reason? Have you turned down a potential wedding or portrait client based based on personality clashes, style differences or simply for the fact that you had a feeling they might be difficult to work with? What about turning down a same sex commitment ceremony because it went against your beliefs?

In 2006, Elane Hugenin, a Christian photographer in Albuquerque, New Mexico was asked by Vanessa Willock, a lesbian, to photograph her commitment ceremony. Hugenin, who owns Elane Photography with her husband Jon, respectfully declined, stating that she only covered “traditional weddings.”  Hugenin explained in court that she was not opposed to photographing gay or lesbian clients, but the message communicated with a ceremony celebrating a same sex union is directly in conflict with her religious beliefs.

[Rewind: “From Russia With Love” ~ A Photo Series Profiles Lesbian Couples Living in Russia]

Willock found another photographer, but took the case to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission and the commission ruled against Hugenin, stating that the photographer violated New Mexico’s “sexual orientation” law. The court ruled that based on the law, which prohibits, “any person in a public accommodation to make a distinction, directly or indirectly, in offering or refusing to offer its services …to any person because of…sexual orientation,” the Hugenin’s were to pay $7,000 in fines.

Hugenin appealed the ruling, but the New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld the verdict, stating that Hugenin discriminated against Willock due to her sexual orientation just as if she were to refuse to shoot a wedding based on a person’s race. Justice Richard Bosson stated in the court’s unanimous decision, that the Hugenins were “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” He further went on to say that “there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life. 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 Hugenin’s, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a group specializing in religious liberty cases, are now appealing their case with the U.S. Supreme Court. They are arguing that asking the Hugenin’s to go against their religious beliefs and shoot a same sex wedding, that would be like “forcing an African-American photographer to take pictures of a KKK rally.

This is not just a case of gay rights vs. religious rights, though both sides have been vocal and volatile. Whether you’re pro or anti-gay rights or religious rights, Christian or non Christian, gay or straight, as a business owner, the question remains should the government be able to determine the clients you work with?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

[via @Christian News]


  1. Brian Freeman

    I don’t agree with Elane Hugenin’s stance on marriage, but her company does have a right to choose who they do or don’t photograph. It’s on par with a photographer recommending a peer to a client because they think it’ll be a better fit. That’s all they did. It’s a shame that they (Elane Photography) brought in religion and personal beliefs from gaining a client, but as I said it is their right to refuse.

    • carlosthedwarf

      So, if she’d refused to photograph a wedding because the couple was Jewish, on account of her religious beliefs, that would be okay with you?

    • Hanssie

      Not according to the state supreme court though. The ruling said that business owners open their doors to “everyone.”

      The religious beliefs just muddle the matter.

    • Niko

      To Carlosthedwarf:

      That’d totally be OK with me. I specialize in Orthodox Christian event photography. I am really unfamiliar with the practices of a Jewish wedding, and it would be a bad decision for both me and the couple if I photographed a Jewish wedding.

      When I was younger, I used to be a DJ. I turned down business from Jewish clients all of the time because I wasn’t familiar with their traditions. Once I disclosed to them that I wasn’t familiar with their traditions, we were both more than happy to walk away from the table.

      That doesn’t mean I discriminated against Jewish people, though. I DJed birthday parties and other events for Jewish people. I just didn’t do the events whose traditions I wasn’t familiar with.

    • Josh

      Regardless, of your beliefs regarding same-sex marriage, I can refuse service to anyone, for any reason. Perhaps you remember a few restaurants with “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service ” signs? Or any number of businesses with signs stating,”We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason”?

      The only difference here is that the photog in question was honest about their reasons for refusing. Had they simply said “No”, with no explanation, this would never have hit the news.

      The same beliefs which compelled them to refuse the wedding gig, dictated that they be honest about why. I may not agree with their stance on marriage, but I admire their willingness to stand on their beliefs, even when it wasn’t comfortable for them. Most people would have simply lied.

    • Cathy

      To Hanssie – the Jewish couple probably wouldn’t have taken her to court. That is one difference. They probably would have found someone that would and move on.

    • James

      @ Josh: You’re mistaken. You — and all those restaurants — can hang all the signs you like, it doesn’t safeguard your right to discriminate as you see fit.

      Case in point.

    • Freeman

      @ Brian Freeman & Josh, your gut feeling that a person can and should be free to choose who they will do business with for any reason they choose is, instinctual and speaks of the inherent freedom we all should have as human beings with the God given right to be the author of our own path in life. Its this freedom that laws like this are violating and once law is allowed to violate our fundamental freedom in fact all freedom and all people are in jeopardy from the law. What this law says is that one person has more right than another, sexaul rights are more important than religious rights. What is means, is that it is now acceptable for law force any person to do any thing that the law makers deem ‘moral’. In short, ones right to ones own life is no longer protected under law.

    • Mark Sheppard

      The fact that it was taken to court says plenty. Any normal person would have moved on and found another photographer. These people are clearly working an agenda and it’s disgusting that our courts facilitate it.

      We now live in a society that says that one persons feelings give them the right to dictate another persons behavior, but only if it’s properly PC.

      No-one should ever be forced to work for someone against their will or be penalized for refusing to do so regardless of the reason.

      This case is just another mile marker on a road that is going the wrong direction.

  2. Tim

    The problem is in what the photographer told the couple. I understand the photographer’s religious beliefs, but under New Mexico law, one may not discriminate because of sexual orientation. The moral of the story, is that if you are turning down a prospective client because of a personal belief, don’t explain to the prospect; just turn them down.

    • Hanssie

      I read in the court documents that the couple emailed Elane photography on another account and asked for the same date for a wedding ceremony without saying they were “same sex” and Elane said she’d be happy to shoot their wedding.

      What if the clients asked?

    • kyla

      i’m not sure why it would matter if the clients asked.. you don’t have to reply, nor do you have to state THAT reason. if your reason is discrimination, wouldn’t it just be smarter to shut up?

    • Tyler Brown

      well put sir.

    • George

      @Hanssie: if the clients emailed posing as a straight couple and inquired about the date AFTER being refused service, that certainly implies that the photographer lied to them about her availability in the first place. If she simply stated that she wouldn’t shoot their event because they were gay, why would they need to bother?

    • Freeman

      @Tim, the problem is not that they told the couple their reasoning, the problem is that they have to explain themselves at all. The moral of the story is that people in America and many other places in the world have lost not only their right to freedom, but as your comment so openly shows, they have lost their will to fight for freedom.

    • Charles

      I would have just stated that I was too busy to take on the additional work and would have just recommended another photographer.. would have saved both parties a lot of grief.

  3. Terry

    This kind if thing is really frustrating. It just trades tolerance of one group for intolerance of another. Does it mean you can’t specialize? Up here in Seattle there are tons of of photographers who specialize in gay and lesbian ceremonies….under this ruling that would theoretically be prohibited?

    • carlosthedwarf

      If they would turn down straight couples because they are straight, then yes, that would also be illegal. [I doubt they turn down straight couples who seek them out.]

    • Gina

      Carlos, i think they’re just smart enough not to mention to the couple that they don’t want to shoot because their straight.

    • Jenna

      This brings it back around to all things, if there is a gay pride parade, why can’t their be a straight pride parade? If there is a black history month, why can’t their be a white history month? If there is an african american club on campus, why can’t their be a dutch american club on campus? So many things to tiptoe over. Reverse racism, and reverse intolerance. I personally am super happy to be straight, but I can’t celebrate that because it would be tactless to those whom it might offend. I could be super happy about being dutch, but it would thought of as racist if I started a special dutch group. Yet I get called a cracker as if it shouldn’t offend me and that its totally OK. I get taken advantage of by other races because I am white (true story, on several different occasions, and I wouldn’t say so if I wasn’t positive). Its what is wrong with the world today and really, I don’t see it getting better for a long time.

      All in all, good for her for standing up for her beliefs, bad for her for saying it out loud to a specific group that might be offended by it. I personally wouldn’t shoot a gay wedding because I’ve never done one before, I would be so out of my element. Not saying they can’t get married, just saying I wouldn’t be the right photographer for them.

    • antonio


      REALLY?? REALLY?? Are you THAT naive???

      The reason there is a gay pride celebration is because of the years of oppression that homosexuals have endured. The reason there is a black history month is because, oh slavery? Jim Crow laws? Lynchings? Any of those things sound familiar?

      When whites are systematically persecuted, exploited as blacks or homosexuals have been in the past, then they get their own f-cking parade.

      The fact that you have to hear about gay pride one weekend out of the year is something that you’re going to have to just deal with, considering every other day of the year is straight pride. The fact that there is a Black Entertainment Television is because every other single television channel makes TV for white people, where at best, there is a token black. Or they have shows for the “urban market” that are all black and only marketed to blacks. When will TV actually show a normal cross-section of what America actually looks like??

      So there, that is your answer. Good night.

    • Mark Sheppard

      Uhhhhh…. It’s clear that Antonio doesn’t get it.

      People that deviate from societal norms should expect negative feedback by society as a whole. Tattoos used to be taboo just like homosexuality.

      Mistreating a particular group to get even is a ridiculous concept and never works.

      As far as the Gay Pride parades go… Does filming hardcore porn in the middle of the street somehow salve the woulds of gay people? What about walking around buck naked with an inflated blue scrotum? I think not, but that is the kind of thing that goes on at Gay Pride parades.

      Has anyone living today ever been a legally owned slave? Has anyone living ever legally owned a slave? If not, why would anyone want to punish the living for the acts of long dead people that they never even met, by people who were never victimized and never met the ones that were?

      Antonio. the world is often unfair but as we all know 2 wrongs don’t make a right. If we want to live in a fair society, a majority of us are going to have to make the choice to stop trying to get even and reject the behavior of people that continue to seek vengeance especially when there is no injury in the first place.

    • Dustin Baugh

      There is a White History month. It’s every month except Black history month. The majority doesn’t really need an occasion for everybody to be reminded it exists.

      It’s the same reason they have “Women’s History” courses in college. We don’t have Men’s History classes, it’s just called “History”.

  4. Aaron Best

    It’s a business offering a service. because it’s a business I think it’s right that shouldn’t be allowed to deny service to LGBT. It would be like an owner of a shop refusing to sell to someone because it’s against thier beliefs to serve LGBT… I think it’s a good thing that there’s a law preventing this discrimination.

    • Holly

      The problem is they were not denying service to the client because of their sexual orientation; they were denying service based on the event itself. There is a big difference between denying service to a person based on who they are and denying service based on what they are doing. If a man asked me to shoot a family session, I would be more than happy to do it. However, if the same man asked me to photograph a gruesome medical procedure, I would have to turn him down. Owning your own business means you get to call the shots. To be honest, if someone were to refuse service to me because I’m white there’s no way I would ever take them to court. I would disagree with their worldview, I would lose a lot of respect for them, and I would definitely be upset, but they’re not taking anything away from me, they are simply not giving me something that does not belong to me. By telling them they have to photograph me, not only am I communicating that I think myself superior, in the end I am also the one who is forcing another person to do something they do not want to do.

    • Lisa J

      But isn’t there a difference between selling someone say, a chicken sandwich and participating in a ceremony that goes against your religious beliefs?

      What if the request is to participate in a “commitment ceremony” for a polygamist? Granted, polygamy isn’t legal but if this was also a commitment ceremony, what would be the difference? Would the polygamist be able to sue also? I use this comparison because same-sex marriage isn’t legal in all counties of New Mexico. It is an inconsistent standard to use against the photographer.

    • antonio

      @HOLLY comparing a gay wedding to a gruesome medical procedure automatically shows your prejudice.

  5. Jim Denham

    Well, in my opinion, no government should be able to dictate who a business takes on as clients. The business should not only be able to determine who they work for, but also deal with the consequences of making those decisions. However, if the state law is so over reaching that it does dictate it, it would be against the law to go against it, whether the law is right or wrong, it’s still the law.

    As far as bringing religion into the business decision, there should be no issue in doing so, but the business has to realize that it becomes part of their brand and the market will react to it, in both good and bad ways depending on the market.

    The big problem here is that certain freedoms are being legislated to be more free than others. Is religious freedom no more free than sexual freedom? Did the Hugenin’s declining the wedding job impede on the rights of those who were getting married? No, they still gt married and hired another photographer, just not the Hugenin’s. However, the religious rights of the Hugenin’s are now being sacrificed as result. Which freedom is more important?

    • carlosthedwarf

      So discrimination based on race or religion is okay, in your view, if it’s based on sincerely held religious beliefs?

    • Helen

      What if the couple had been Hindu, or Muslim? Or if they had been African-American or Asian-American? If the photographers said their religious beliefs dictated they not work with one of those groups, would that be ‘okay’?

    • Jim Denham

      Take Adorama for instance. They close for Jewish holidays. They are running their business based on their religious beliefs and are not impeding on anyone else’s rights even though they are essentially turning down business from those people who would have shopped their had they been open. They would just have to shop somewhere else. Should they stay open because someone who is not Jewish wants to buy something from that store at that exact time? That’s not discrimination, that’s choosing how to run your business and allowing your brand to reflect it.

    • Gina

      Helen and CTW – yes it would be fine. They’re not trampling on their ability to be happy, they just don’t want to work for them. They are still able to be married, still free to persue other avenues, and still able to be free. This photographer was essentially fined for being an a-hole. There are a lot of asses out there maybe they should all be fined into being nice?

    • Tsayguy

      Being closed for business is not the same as refusing on the grounds of religious belief. Try harder.

    • Jon

      The problem is people do not know what “freedom of religion” actually means. What it actually means is that an individual is treated the same regardless of their religion. Elane is not being singled out because of her beliefs. She could be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Wiccan, Druidic, Buddhist, Taoist, a practitioner of Santeria, Satanist, Agnostic or Atheist and the results would still come out the same for her.

      And yes you do surrender certain rights when you go into business. But that is a conscious choice each individual makes when they hang their “open” sign up. The law states when you open up for business, you are open to everyone. Period.

      And people don’t really think it through when they declare religious rights are sacrosanct like the Alliance Defense Fund (what they used to be called, I refuse to call them by their new name since they actually fight against freedom) claims. Because it goes to a very scary place like completely justifying religious-based terrorism.

    • thomas

      the same is true for Chick-fil-a, they are closed on Sundays because of reglious reasons. this is more so evident since the stores are a franchise, the franchise is making their franchisees close as part of their agreement. i should not be forced to do anything that deem against my moral being, jus because i am in a service industry. LGBT or not, relgious or not, i am the one that is responsible for the happiness of my client with the photos i take. if i am being FORCED to photograph a KKK or PETA rally just bcause i have to offer my services equally, i might take photographs showing a different mood than if ASKED and AGREED to take the same photos.

    • beehive

      TSAYGUY there you go again…

      “”Being closed for business is not the same as refusing on the grounds of religious belief. “”

      When you close for business you are actually refusing to serve a potential client who wants to use you service at the time. Adorama and B&H (who also suspend online shipping as well) close BECAUSE of religious beliefs. Yet they continue to do so well.

      Try harder.

    • James

      The government isn’t dictating who a business takes on – the government is mandating that a business may not refuse service to anyone because of race or sexual preference.

      Adorama closes to ALL customers, they don’t discriminate. Their religious freedom is not at issue, and neither is the Hugenins’. They may worship as they wish, but business is not worship.

    • Beehive

      I hate to break it to some folks but one’s faith and religious beliefs INFORM how they behave in every area of life including business. That’s right. it is IMPOSSIBLE to have certain religious beliefs that DO NOT manifest themselves in the way you do business. That is the bottom line. It is IMPOSSIBLE. Or else your beliefs are no beliefs at all. People must realize that for christians, their faith takes precedence.

      Or that’s tough and insensitive you say?

      Not really…

      How tough is refusing to do a wedding that one would feel so put off by that it will be impossible to execute well.

      I’m not talking about a lawyer refusing to represent a homosexual after being beaten upon just because he is homosexual. That would be inhumane. No human being deserves that.

      I’m talking about a ceremony glorifying a commitment that according to the christian is directly opposed to their belief which takes precedence. They do not want to be involved in propagating that lifestyle by having the images THEY created circulating. They would not FEEL at ease either in that ceremony and that is not good for business.

      And yes…for christians…business IS worship

    • Priest Apostate

      The Adorama example that you use to supplement your stance is a poor example, because your logic is flawed.

      If one is closed for Jewish holidays (or whatever holiday said business owner happens to practice), they are providing equal opportunity for service (which, during their religious holiday, equates to ‘no service’), to all customers. There would be as much of an issue with that, as in trying to access a store that is closed on Christmas (which is to say: ‘no issue whatsoever’). If the photographer was going to be closed on the day in question, likewise, there wouldn’t be an issue, as all customers would be treated equally, in being told that the photographer wasn’t working that day, due to a religious holiday.

      However, the photographer in this case can not claim that defense, as they refused service to one couple, based upon their (the couple’s) sexual preference. They opted to give preferential treatment, based upon their prejudices, which I would wager to say _is_ discrimination — and, it is illegal.

    • Patrick

      Jim writes: “Well, in my opinion, no government should be able to dictate who a business takes on as clients.”

      Patrick replies: The government does not tell you whom to take on as clients, only that you can’t discriminate based on religion , race, etc., and the distinction is huge.

      Jim writes: “Take Adorama for instance. They close for Jewish holidays. They are running their business based on their religious beliefs and are not impeding on anyone else’s rights even though they are essentially turning down business from those people who would have shopped their had they been open. ”

      Patrick replies: This argument is absurd. A business that closes for whatever reason is not discriminating — when it’s doors are closed everyone is treated the same, no one is served equally. If everyone is treated the same, it won’t matter what the reason for closing is as discrimination is nonexistent.

    • Dustin Baugh

      @Thomas Your Chick-fil-A example isn’t the same (ditto with the above Adorma example). This isn’t an occurrence of a Photographer refusing to take pictures on Sunday because their religion believes it’s the Sabbath.

      A better comparison for this would be Chick-fil-A refusing to serve an LGBT couple on Saturday while they continue to serve everybody else. It’s the business discriminating against the beliefs of a specific customer, rather than closing up shop to all customers.

  6. WM Rine

    The establishment clause in the first amendment applies to the freedom of the individual, but does not cover a commercial enterprise. This starts to seem blurry in a sole proprietorship, but it doesn’t need to. You can be a bigoted individual. You can be an individual with moral judgments about other people. A business entity doesn’t enjoy those rights.

    Businesses and the free market exist thanks to government and the space it creates protecting money, private property, and other things. As the Court of Appeals decision notes, it’s part of the price of maintaining that free market that businesses are not allowed to discriminate on gender, religion, race, sexual orientation. You don’t have to read very deeply in our history to see why those protections are necessary.

    There’s some savvy involved in choosing one’s customers. One can reserve the right to refuse service to someone. I ran a consulting practice years ago and chose my clients carefully. I couldn’t afford to have failures. These days, most of us probably don’t feel like we can be choosy with our clientele. I think there are reasonable and human ways to go about this.

    • Tsayguy

      Businesses are people, my friend!

    • Dave

      WM Rine – actually businesses and the free market do not exist because of government. In fact, many businesses don’t exist because of the government. Many people are just not willing to put up with the nonsense engendered by government infusion into their lives. I suspect the photographer in question had been in business long before this current need to keep everyone happy regardless of their life choices.

      If I choose not to wash and end up stinking would a restaurant be justified in telling me to leave? Refusing me service? If an obviously homeless person walks into a Mercedes dealer will he be welcome to take a test drive? Choices have consequences that the law is trying to placate. It shouldn’t be necessary.

      And yes, businesses should have a right to choose what clients they serve, no matter what the reason.

    • Layne

      You, and many others, seem to have forgotten that our nation’s founding documents declare that our rights were given to us by God, not by the government, and the government is only there to protect those rights. I know, your teachers neglected to fill you in. You also seem to have forgotten the SCOTUS rulings that protect a person’s God-given rights to exercise their religious beliefs even when conducting business. Clearly the lesbians had many other choices to service this ceremony, so then why are they so hateful of these Christians? The Christians had no where else to go to maintain their integrity. Why is this couple so hell bent to destroy their religious freedom? Not very much pluralism and tolerance.
      I left California partially due to their bigotry towards my religious beliefs. There is something of a ‘soft’ diaspora occurring in this society. This case represents far more than what it seems at first blush.

    • Greg Letiecq

      If you believe business happens only because of benefits the government provides, then this is a logical conclusion. I would argue that a business can exist quite well absent government, and that in fact government only exists because there are businesses providing it with financial support by means of tax payments. If that is more accurate, then government has no legitimate power to infringe on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (at least in the United States, but arguably elsewhere) absent a compelling interest that would survive strict legal scrutiny.

      What compelling interest could government ague that dictates that a specific photographer MUST provide photography services at gay commitment ceremonies? Would there be irreversible harm done if not? That’s a pretty ridiculous argument, and I would expect a constitutionally-constrained Supreme Court to strike down New Mexico’s overreach here. Unfortunately, the current bench seems to wander quite far afield of the Constitution calling regulatory penalties “taxes” and such, so the outcome is less certain here than it should be.

    • James

      @ Dave: homeless people are stinking people are not protected from discrimination of that sort. I agree that it should not be necessary, and that bigotry should not exist, but it does.

      @Layne — actually, the social bigotry that has gone on for a long time has come FROM the church; what’s happening now is the state and society pushing the church back into its proper place, your private life.

      Also, the famous line about rights “being endowed by our creator” is in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution — and it goes on to say “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” Just sayin’, in case you don’t know it, many of the Founding Fathers were not Christian, in fact, many of them outspokenly so.

      You do know that not all of the Founding Fathers were Christians, right?

    • George

      @Greg: You don’t think the government has a compelling interest in preventing systematic discrimination? Because that’s the basic issue here. I’m willing to bet that’s something you’re fortunate enough to know nothing about.

  7. Charles

    if your getting married do you realy want a photographer that does not want to shoot your wedding. Not a good start for good photos!

    • caryn

      After the refusal, they no longer wanted them to shoot the wedding. They just wanted to punish them.

    • Tsayguy

      The photographer broke the law, and the couple reported them.

      If you were refused service at a restaurant for being black/Jewish/white/gay, would you say, “Ah, well my feelings are hurt and my rights were infringed and someone broke the law against me, but I’ll just find another place to eat and forget about it”?

    • Dustin Baugh

      @CARYN If a wealthy white american conservative went to a McDonalds and the Hispanic man at the teller said. “I’m sorry, due to the recent intolerance towards immigrants like me I’m refusing to serve any Caucasians.”
      You don’t think they would try to punish them, complain to corporate, have their franchise revoked, inform Fox News, go on Rush Limbaugh and play the victim over it?

      What are the chances of them saying, “I understand and respect that as a business you have the right to refuse service to people based on race, creed, or sexual orientation.”
      You’re right they did want to punish them. We all would if we were discriminated against.

  8. Mark Devillier

    When I have to do anything because an “authority” makes me do it, I would then be considered a slave.

    The world has really mucked the vision of Freedom.

    • OMG

      This is where the world is going. No need to be civil about anything, make laws so that you have no choice, but to see my way! The minority speaks, government caters to the smaller, more vocal interest groups. This is now freedom… until the pendulum swings again.

    • George

      As opposed to letting the majority impose it’s will on the minority, which of course is the very definition of freedom. Hence, slavery was actually freedom, right?

    • Dustin Baugh

      “America stands for freedom, but if you think you’re free,
      try walking into a deli, and urinating on the cheese.”

      Is your vision Freedom, or Anarchy?

  9. Fabio

    Every business owner should have the right to choose his/her clients.
    If by law you can’t say “I won’t shoot your wedding because you are xxxxxxxx” (where xxxx can be anything) just ask them a VERY expensive price to make them walk away by themselves …

    • Priest Apostate

      That wouldn’t be an advisable course of action: if someone were savvy enough to realize what was going on, and replicated the circumstances, that caused you to selectively overcharge customers, isn’t there a chance that being charged with discrimination would be the _least_ of your legal worries?

  10. Mike

    Just a thought.. Why don´t you “Americans” with this stupid court rulings just say: “I´m already booked” or “We have no space left”.. Why do you always go and explain the reasons? No one can force you to do it if you are “booked already” or just not working that weekend.
    A bit of ingenuity would not hurt from time to time =)

    • Peterjupton

      I think somebody mentioned above that the client used a different email to ask again not mentioning what it was so the I’m buisy line would have been caught out its a technicality but if the photographer said no I don’t do commitment ceremonys is that illegal as it’s a type of event not a judgement about the client in the same way I say no if I’m asked to work a a child’s party I just don’t do them

  11. Gina

    I think this is just one more step to not having freedom of anything. They’re a business owner, they should be able to refuse their service to anyone for any reason. If they want to refuse it because it’s an LGBT union then they should be allowed to, and know what – i won’t use them. I will tell my friends not to use them, and i will tell every person i can not to use them. that’s their choice. She is compelled to pay a sum to the couple because she wouldn’t shoot the wedding is not a win. she basically paid for their photos i guess, so the squeaky wheel gets the grease i suppose. I don’t like intolerance but forcing people by law to like something is complete BS in my opinion. I don’t photograph nude men. I photograph nude women. I just don’t like looking at nude men in detail. Should i be compelled by law to photograph nude men or none at all?

    • carlosthedwarf

      So you think a business owner should have the right to discriminate based on race or religion? [It’s so telling that no one will provide a straight answer to this question.]

    • Gina

      Yea. i’ll give a straight answer. It’s your business. If you want to commit financial suicide by doing that then it’s your choice. The government should not have any say in who i give my services to. Yes. I think it’s fine. Nobody’s hurt, go find another business to patronize. We’re talking about wedding photography, not selling food, healthcare, or life and death services. The government differentiates necessary services when they give out healthcare and foodstamps, i don’t see wedding photos as a service necessary for life. People like to throw “discrimination” around. People are allowed to have beliefs. She has the right to believe what she does, and because of that, she shouldn’t have to photograph the wedding. They have the right to be a same sex couple. She didn’t stop them from getting married, she just didn’t want to photograph it.

    • carlosthedwarf

      Then how far does that go? Can a doctor refuse to serve black patients? What if he’s the only doctor in town? What about a grocery store?

    • Gina

      a doctor takes a hippocratic oath to serve anyone in need. If they have a problem with it then they shouldn’t be a doctor. it’s written into the profession. AS far as a food store, you didn’t read my post enough. yes, the issue starts when you deprive someone of life, liberty, or persuit of happiness. Food is life. If you’re the only food store in town, then that will cause a problem. These people were free to continue looking for another photographer. They were not stopped from being married or stopped from living. There is no issue here, so don’t equate it to unlike circumstances to boost your agenda. the couple persued it in court and surprise — money.

    • carlosthedwarf

      The problem with your position, Gina, is that we know what happens when your preferred laws are put into effect. What you’re advocating is a return to the pre-Civil Rights Act America. We had these things called Sundown Towns, where, if you were not white and Christian, you could not be in those towns after dark. No business would serve you, and your mere presence would likely bring down violence against you. [This wasn’t just in the South, either!] This is the inevitable result of what you’re suggesting here, and the laws changed because that was morally unacceptable to the vast majority of Americans.

    • Gina

      Your problem carlos is that everything is black and white to you. YOU FAIL to even see the double standard inherant in peoples ideology. its ok to lie to them and say youre busy or suggest that they use another service, but its not ok to tell the truth and stand up for your morals? Once again you talk about violence being brought against them and returning to an age that their liberties arent being violated.

    • Gina

      …..ssorryfat fingers… anyway its not about whos right and who is wrong its about where rights begin and end. The woman photographer has right to religious freedom. The same sex couple has the right to join in union. Whythen were the religious rights of one punished for the rights of someone else when life nor liberty nor the persuit if happiness was affected. Infact the photographer was the one whos civil liberties were trampled on in this case, all under the guise of tolerance. No it is not an open and shut case nor is it ti be applied over every circumstance. It required thought and logic to ensure that everyone is treated equally. If not then all that will happen is the balance will sway until the minority becomes tthe majority, then it will repeat itself in the opposite direction. Get a clue and stop starting fights and calling things hate when theyre not. Your equivalencies are way out of whack.

    • James

      So Gina, those photos of all the businesses in the 1950’s with the “whites only” signs — that was okay? They should have left it that way?

    • George

      The photographer as an individual has the right to her beliefs, sure. But her business is not an individual. It’s not a person. It has no such rights. Besides, as a business owner, she is compelled to obey the law. The law protects the rights of certain people whose rights have traditionally been trampled upon. If she doesn’t want to comply with the law, she’s FREE to close her business.

    • Gina

      It’s easy to tell a bleeding heart. It’s so black and white with them. NOBODY should be turned down — yet here are all these people saying “oh she should have just said that she was busy, or upped her price” etc etc etc. that’s still turning them down, and for the same reason. Wait until you have to do something you don’t want to do and the court makes YOU do it or fines you. The problem is that you people never look at all the circumstances and refuse to put yourself in the shoes of anyone on the less defended side of an article. LGBT rights, racism, feminism, etc. Newsflash , affirmative action is just accepted racism… literally. Having educated people in this world is what’s going to fix issues, not demanding that people see it your way or else.

    • George

      “Having educated people in this world is what’s going to fix issues, not demanding that people see it your way or else.”

      Which is why conservatism isn’t the answer.

  12. Terry Clark

    If you’re open for business you’re open to everyone regardless of race, creed, color, gender or sexual preference. Discrimination is discrimination. If you don’t like that then don’t go into business, do photography as a hobby and you can photograph anything or anyone you wish and not photograph anyone you wish.

    • Kristen C

      Most photographers aren’t “open for business” in the traditional sense though. They don’t have standard operating hours during which anyone can walk into a store and purchase things. Photographers are also artists, and you can’t force an artist to accept your commission right?

    • Beehive

      Man – I’m sorry little girl, but boys scouts are for boys.
      Girl – But why can’t you include girls? that’s discrimination…infringing on my rights
      Man – that’s what it is what can I say?
      Girl – Well whatever it is …save it for the courts…I’m SUING you.

      Whatever the business someone will get an excuse to shout DISCRIMINATION. I know of an all couples resorts (and hetero at that). Single folks can cry discrimination.

      Some wedding photogs cater for a certain class of people with a minimum amount of dough. DISCRIMINATION.

      A casino bans locals from patronizing (only tourists allowed). DISCRIMINATION.

      There will always be DISCRIMINATION in one form or other.

      A photog feels uncomfortable photographing gay lesbian wedding. DISCRIMINATION.

      Go get one who will. You’re not in for emergency surgery where you are being denied treatment for being gay. That is something else.

      Let’s face it, we are smart enough to see that this legal action against the photog is pure BS. The people behind that pair representing them and ruling in their favour KNOW it too. But they have to forward an agenda that’s even bigger than they are. The Judges must tow the line despite their common sense telling them otherwise. They must flow with the system.

      Go get another photog. Simple as that. “But we are victims blah blah blah.” BS. You just wanted easy money.

      Pure idiotic BS…..

    • George

      Really, Beehive? You can’t draw a distinction between homosexuals, who have had their rights trampled upon for hundreds of years, and single people or “locals,” people who have NO HISTORY of being victims of systemic discrimination? How about this:

      Sorry, African-Americans, you can’t eat at our lunch counter. DISCRIMINATION.

      Sorry, Japanese-Americans, you have to be imprisoned despite committing no crime, simply because we’re at war with the country your ancestors came from. DISCRIMINATION.

      Sorry, women, you’re not allowed to vote because you don’t have a penis. DISCRIMINATION.

      Sorry, homosexuals, we won’t do business with you because my pastor told me not to. DISCRIMINATION.

    • Dustin Baugh

      @KRISTEN C That’s a very good question. Were these photographers Professionals or Hobbyists?
      Do they file taxes as a small business with the government? Receive small business grants from the government, get tax write offs for being a small business with the government? If the government is is giving them money or tax breaks for being a business shouldn’t they also be following the government’s laws dictating they can’t discriminate against race creed or sex?

      Maybe that’s the solution. You’re allowed to discriminate but the government gets to revoke your business licence and tax breaks.

  13. Stephanie

    I think she handled it wrong. I turn down weddings all the time, usually because I feel the bride would be too hard for me to deal with. Do I write that as an explanation? “I’m sorry, you seem like a real witch, so I can’t do your wedding.” No! I tell them I am booked and thank them for the inquiry. Stating the religious stance was a mistake and downright offensive. However, taking pictures of a gay marriage is far different from just regular pictures of them. This is a ceremony under the sight of God, and if the photographer didn’t believe in it, she shouldn’t have to photograph it. I darn sure wouldn’t photograph a sacrifical ceremony for a cult.

    • Ryan Cooper

      If memory serves from when this first came to light months ago Elane had simply told them she was busy that day and the lesbian couple then had a friend call back to book a heterosexual wedding on the same day to find out if she actually “was” busy that day.

    • Jeff

      What if a woman calls you and asks if you’re available to shoot their wedding on June 1st and you say yes. Then you meet with them and find out it’s a lesbian couple. How do you get out of that? I don’t know what I’d say without lying, which also something a Christian shouldn’t do.

      BTW, a Christian would no malice whatsoever against lesbians, they just don’t like the idea of making this a lawful thing. It’s unfair to them to compare it to not serving a black person at a restaurant.

    • Tsayguy

      There are so many ways she could have handled it. For example, “I’m uncomfortable with this ceremony, and I don’t think we would be a very good fit,” would have been much more defensible, even, than flat out saying, “I won’t perform this service because you’re gay,” which is both clearly prohibited by law and exactly what she said.

    • Beehive

      In other words TSAYGUY, honesty is no longer the best policy.

    • Jerry

      Really? Sacrificial ceremony for a cult?

      Really? Is that some kind of specially protected group under the law? I don’t think so.

      Get over it and close up shop now if you can’t deal with the fact that a business owner must respect the law of the land, regardless of their religious affiliations, beliefs, and personal opinions… or just pay the money. What matters is that there is plenty of case law to draw on with tons of precedents.

      If Chick-fil-a had put a sign out saying “Gays Not Allowed” or pick any federally protected class… you can bet they’d be paying lots of money regardless of whether or not you can go next door to Burger King where there’s no sign. And even without a sign, they said that they didn’t want to sell Chick-fil-a sandwiches to cater a gay wedding… you can bet they’d be in the same hot mess of a problem with the law.

      Just because you have a business that doesn’t serve food doesn’t mean you’re any less responsible for upholding the laws that protect citizens from discrimination and I doubt you’d really want them to not be there.

      I mean, as a homeowner in a subdivision that has an HOA, I’m subject to a lot of rules and regulations that run afoul of my personal beliefs about how I should be free in America to do whatever I damn well please with my house, but make no mistake. I do not delude myself into believing that I can do them and get away with it. They will come calling with fines and lawsuits. THIS is the America you live in. Get over it.

      But cult. Nice one.

  14. Ryan Cooper

    I think while we do need to work as a society to become as as open to everyone as possible I think that we as artists should also be free to follow the direction in our careers. Where does the line get drawn?

    For example

    Does a photographer that specializes in shooting fashion/beauty female models HAVE to take on a male client if asked or risk getting in trouble for sexual discrimination?

    Does a photographer that specializes in baby portraits HAVE to take on a senior citizen who comes to them for a portrait or risk getting in trouble for age discrimination?

    If you think about it anyone turning down a client that does not fit their niche could be considered discrimination.

    While I don’t feel Elane made the right decision I do feel that it should be her creative decision to make. It sounds to be that she was very respectful and nice about the whole thing and that the lesbian couple decided they needed to make a statement and hang her to dry so they set up an entrapment situation.

  15. Peter

    The judge is really stupid. Someone should have brought this up to the judge: Can gay/lesbian photographers sue potential clients for not wanting to hire them based on their sexual orientation?

    Like seriously. World’s getting dumber.

    Now any smart photographer in that area will have to say “sorry, I’m already booked and there’s a deposit” whenever a same-gender couple asks.

    • Beehive

      By the God damned Minute…

    • James

      Peter, it’s more than one judge — and you can be pretty sure that they’ve spent quite a lot of time in the study of law.

      You might not agree, but “stupid” doesn’t really say much about the issue in question.

  16. Ben

    I think it is unfair to the photographer to force them to do something they do not want to do. Personally, I don’t want to do boudoir or nude portraits, if a client came to me wanting to do those or something more hardcore than that I shouldn’t be forced under the law to fulfill that request. It’s outside of my personal moral boundaries and could have severe implications on my family, friends, and business clients. Not only that, if I were to do it I wouldn’t do a good job because that’s not where my skill set is, so they shouldn’t even want me to do it.

    • James

      People seem to be having a hard time understanding the issue here.

      — They’re in the business of photographing weddings.
      — They refused to shoot this wedding specifically because of the couple’s sexual orientation. That’s against the law.

      They weren’t forced to do anything – they were fined when they violated the civil rights of a potential client.

  17. Sam L

    This is so absurd. Why do others think they can bully anyone who doesn’t support the same Moral worldview? The belief that homosexuals are tolerant people is obviously untrue in this case. Why shouldn’t the couple seek another photographer, I’m sure there are others out there willing to book them. How about some toleration and respect for those that oppose your beliefs. I feel so sorry for that poor photographer, and I am in full support of her decision to stand on what she believes in. Where do we draw the line people?

    • James

      I think once a new statute is on the books, it has to be applied in the real world. Gay people have barely won this freedom, and they’re smarting from generations of abuse and discrimination. They will INSIST on their hard-won rights for a time, understandably so.

  18. Spencer Bunting

    I don’t understand why someone of the same sex would approach a photographer who operates their business with a Christian mind set. just like the argument of the african american and the KKK. Would it be the same case if it were a minister who declined? would he be forced by the government to perform the ceremony? I think in the end it comes down to the couple should have respected her stance on marriage and what she thought was best for her business. after hearing her stance they should have determined that she wasn’t best for their wedding after all. In most cases clients hire our personalities just as much as our talents, our creative nature is a part if who we are. Everyone wants their views and opinions respected.

    • Sakari

      Not all Christians are ignorant or bigoted despite you telling people to operate under that assumption in your first sentence. The business’ stance is discriminatory. It’s against the law for that business to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. This case is cut and dry. The law will never side with religion as basis to discriminate in the business world.

  19. Helen

    To be clear– this photographer was not forced to shoot the wedding, correct? They were fined for discriminating against a couple for a reason protected under state law. If that is the case, it seems that the title of this article is misleading.

    • Tsayguy

      Agreed. Fix the wording and you don’t have a case made of “religious liberties infringed.”

  20. Wendy

    As Photography is an artistic enterprise and open to the interpretation of the photographer, or artist, it seems that they should approach their appeal from that angle, rather than bring up the KKK. As an artist, I should be able to choose my subject matter in a way that enhances my ability to provide them with the best finished product possible. If someone does not like my artistic style they can choose another photographer. They are not my target audience. If a subject does not inspire me and bring out my best artistic ability, I should be able to refer them to someone else. And just because I get paid for the time I put into creating my art does not mean it isn’t art. Photography is not an emotionless skill that people have, and a flat service people provide, or at least it shouldn’t be. It is filled with creative energy and interaction between the photographer and the clients. You should mesh. If not, find another photographer. That is a bit like telling the artist what they have to paint or sculpt. When the government legislates art and creativity, look out.

    • Layne

      My understanding is that they did invoke the ‘artist’ defense, but it made no difference to the judges.

  21. Michael Rapp

    Well, ther’re two options:
    Grit your teeth and shoot the wedding, or,
    try to point out, very, very politely, that you have trouble (religious, ehtical, whatever reason) shooting the wedding.
    If you can manage to get across that the client deserves the very best picture for their money and you might not be able to deliver the client’s money worth.
    However, you know xxx, who does outstanding pix on same sex marriages or whatever.

    If the refusal hadn’t been like “I’m not shooting your wedding ‘cos you’re gay!” but more along the lines of “I’m afraid I can’t deliver. Since I might fail to connect to the emotion of the couple, my images won’t be up to paar”, no judge would ever have seen this case in his court.

    It’s not about turning down a client, it’s how you make them feel.

    • Richard Killey

      good points Michael

    • MattB

      Michael, as I read in a few other articles about this she actually was polite about it and even offered to point them in the direction of other photographers they could solicit to shoot their ceremony.

      Really what this shows is you just have to not explain yourself at all simply say no and leave it at that.

    • James

      I think we tend to run up against speed bumps as society changes.

      The delicate way to handle the issue — especially now that it’s VERY clear that there’s a federal law in place — is to take the job, and then cancel with apologies within a couple of days, return the deposit, and accept no other business on that day.

      There are aspects of it that suck on both sides, but as the judge opined, sometimes there’s a price to pay for freedom.

  22. Tony

    You know what should be illegal…. RELIGION It causes nothing but trouble in the world

    Grab a damn book and educate yourself….. You backwards thinking F-ing Retard!!!

  23. Josh

    I find it interesting that it is ok to discriminate someone’s belief system, but not ok to choose how you do business. I also find it interesting that the clients got so worked up over the matter that they took the business to court. It makes the clients look just as bad as the photographers.

  24. Michelle Ford

    now this is interesting. i’m very open to shooting LGBT weddings and any other type of wedding for that matter. not sure how i would fare in india however where they do marriages between young children and older men or in polygamous weddings. the thing is i know i can DOCUMENT something but i don’t know that i could deliver and properly service the client like i do all the other weddings that i shoot if my perspective is isn’t in line with their emotions.

    i think i saw hanssie’s reply to one of the comments saying that the couple, after being told that the photographer didn’t want to shoot their wedding did another request posing as a straight couple. the photographer said they were available. that’s sneaky and makes this very complicated. my first reaction to all this was if you don’t want to shoot something just say no. you don’t need to explain why. when two clients hit me for the same wedding date, two things will influence my decision, how well we match and how much they are paying me. when i turn down the other party i simply say i’m not available.

    • Abel

      Ah, I couldn’t help but notice your comment about India. Since I’ve lived there pretty much all my life, I’d like to clear a few things up for you.

      a) Underage marriage is illegal in my country. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but it is not the norm because it is highly illegal. The places where this does happen, are actually places where people are uneducated and ignorant that this is against the law. If anyone did approach you to photograph their wedding with a minor (which is highly unlikely because very few people can remain rich enough to afford a wedding photographer and still be illiterate) you are under obligation to inform the police. If you don’t you’re liable to serve a prison sentence.
      I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never heard of Child Marriage outside of those areas which are economically downtrodden

      b) Polygamous weddings are also illegal, followed by the same argument as above. The only exception to this happens in considerations to Islamic weddings, but that is the same throughout the world where Muslims are allowed to live under Sharia Law and not under regular civil law.
      In this case, you’re not legally bound to provide service, as since you’re not a Muslim you fall under civil law and have every right to deny the service.

      I’m a big fan of your work and I mean no offense, it’s just that you have a following and when people make a statement like that about a country in a broad sweeping way, people tend to assume that it’s a norm and not an exception.
      I’ve had too many people ask me before how I have access to a broadband connection or why my name doesn’t have 46 syllables in it. Haha (:

      Anyhow, back to the issue at hand.
      I read through the transcript of the case.

      From what it says, the couple specifically asked if Elane doesn’t shoot same sex weddings. You could say that Elane could have been tactful and asked for the date of the wedding, and pretended to be booked, but then again the couple posed emailed her again acting as if they were straight.
      Either way, she would be caught.

      I agree with you that she would be able to document it, but not be able to do a good job because her heart wasn’t into it. Photography isn’t a product that is consumed, it is an artistic service.
      I’m just worried about what this could mean. If this pulls through the supreme court, it could mean that we won’t have a choice anymore.
      I have no problem shooting LGBT couples, but like you mentioned earlier with your point of child marraiges, would it be illegal for me to refuse a client because it doesn’t match my personal beliefs?

  25. Jeremy

    I am all for gay rights and same sex marriage. But this is a private business decision, not a taxpayer funded agency that is turning down the shoot. Sexual orientation and religious beliefs really have no place in this exchange. The photographer could have handled it more tactfully, but this is a flagrant misuse of our justice system. Shame on the judges involved with this ruling. Granted this law seems to be less than ideal, but it is their job is to interpret the laws provided by the executive branch. If they can’t see the frivolity of this suite they need to find another job.

    • James

      Actually, Jeremy, laws come from the legislative branch, only signed by the executive. And I think it’s safe to say the justices in both cases took it quite seriously.

      You could say the same thing with a “whites only” lunch counter. Why can’t black people just go eat somewhere else — like, their own restaurants, on their own side of town? You could have a cool government name for the policy, like “apartheid.”

      I do agree with you that religion and sexual orientation should have played no part. The photographers shoot weddings, the couple was planning a wedding. What’s the problem?

    • James

      Oops, meant to say that, as laws come from the legislature and are signed by the executive, it then becomes the job of the judiciary to hold the law up to the light of constitutionality. Some laws are struck down on that basis, and some enforced, sometimes to unpopular effect.

  26. Terry

    One of the big issues here is the change in interpretation of what “person in a public accommodation” means in terms of business. The courts more recently, in more states than one have broadened this definition significantly from what it meant in the past. Prior, it was interpreted to mean things likes restaurants, public sporting events, etc. Where a public refusal to serve someone based on race, sex, orientation, would be “public”.

    The bottom line is that when you start forcing people to do anything for anyone it is as discriminatory as the discrimination you are trying to prevent. There are thousand examples: the KKK example, the gay photographer having to shoot a wedding for an anti-gay rally, this couple “having” to shoot this wedding.

    This isn’t a “public accommodation” and that does matter.

    You can’t truly separate businesses form people. It would mean that if you have a belief system that differs from whatever direction the courts and population are leaning toward at the moment then you functionally aren’t free to for the “pursuit of happiness” as the courts have historically defined it. The very thing our system is supposed to prevent.

    I and everyone should be able to do business or not do business with whoever I want for whatever reason. I then have to accept the consequences for that decision. The law says I don’t get that luxury for a “public accommodation” but that wasn’t written to mean “every business”.

    This is particularly important for photographers, when we do work it can push one agenda or another. If theoretically shoot a wedding for a family who is all members of the KKK (a “religion”) with a positive flavor, that is going to be interpreted by viewers as a sympathy toward that belief system. If I shoot it in a way to “display” it as negative, I’m going to get drug to court for delivering a product different then what the client wanted. It will also create backlash with my target customer group. I don’t want any one of those things, it conflicts with my personal beliefs and it conflicts with my business plans. If you have a different believe system and business plan, then go for it….

    • Terry

      Sorry for the typos…in a hurry…

    • Richard Killey

      that was a good example … having a gay photographer forced to photograph an anti-gay group

    • Niko

      This is a really well thought out point. Thank you!

    • Jerry

      If you’re in the wedding photography business… AND that means it’s not an artistic thing that you do… where some patron of the arts lavishes money on you because your wedding photos are marvelous when they see them…. you’re in the business of taking photos at weddings and you operate as a business paying sales tax… with a deposit… and a contract for the event… paying employees… paying income taxes on the income from the event…. that’s the legal definition of a wedding photography business… then you must not discriminate.

      All these cult references, KKK rallies, child weddings, beatings, killings, pedophilia, drug, and whatever else the geniuses making excuses for this photographer on here come up with are completely not relevant. Those have NOTHING to do with a federally protected class of people being discriminated against.

      If you were to say the people had a business where they take pictures at social group outings AND the KKK was some kind of federally protected class (pick which one that it is if you think that’s true–but hint, it’s not)… then YES you would have to go take those pictures if that was your business OR they could sue you under the law. That’s how it is. Fortunately they’re not a federally protected class of people, and so you don’t.

  27. EScott

    It’s not your wedding or your beliefs on display. What does photography have to do with religion? Take the photos, get paid. Why in the blue Christing hell do people feel compelled to state their most private beliefs in public is beyond all logic and reason. When an agent of the government puts a gun to my head in my own home and forces to state my beliefs, then we can all say we have a problem.

    Did anyone ever hear the phrase “silence is golden”?

  28. Russ

    All most all of the top notch Wedding Photographers “qualify” their customers first….where in basically the client is auditioning for the photographer. The Zack and Jody use the the “on a scale 1-10 how important are your photos?” if the answer is not a 8 or higher they don’t even really bother. One of the famous celebrity photographer (maybe a Joe???) says if the client mentions they want to jump up in the air funny stuff…that he is not the photographer for them. We spend so much time effort on “Branding” and “Public Image”. that we should be able to select what jobs we wont to be a part of. Quick story; as a young photographer I took a referral from a friend to shoot a DJ working at a club. This DJ did the Gothic acid metal techno wear gas masks in the club thing…. Nicest guy in the world, but not my scene. I did the shoot, got paid provided the appropriate DJ Promotional Photos. Like i said great nice guy (in a gas mask), HOWEVER these photos made it on to Vampire Freaks dot com (DJ promotion). now when you Google my name this website comes up. it doesn’t look all the great to my Wedding and Baby Clients. So this is my cautionary tale to the younger photographers that are commenting “why turn down work?” Aside from you’ll learn that not every customer is a blessing (nice way of saying it) and Sometimes you have to protect your built “brand”. I know this article was built on the around religious aspect and if the government has the right to force you to participate in business that goes against your religious beliefs…to which other than emergency medical care (Jewish/Catholic/private hospitals) or discrimination interviewing an new employee, I say they don’t have the right to tell me what style of jobs to do. I’ve ran into LGBT weddings before…And it is very easy to get Labeled and then Trapped in what is still, no matter how much the times are changing, a niche market.

    • Patsy

      While I strongly believe that everyone has a right to their individual beliefs, when one runs a business and one states their opposition to a life style or political belief and refuse service in a public forum, one is setting one self up for a potential complaint.
      I have turned down clients and businesses in the past because I had a personal bias against them but kept this to myself. I simply said that I was unable to work for them because do scheduling conflicts and left it at that.

      I have faced discrimination due to a variety of reasons- being a woman, being gay and other stuff but instead of letting this stop me, I have flu d ways to move on and triumph.

      For the woman and any business that chooses to voice their opposition to same-sex weddings/commitment ceremonies, I say. Okay…..send them to me and others- we’ll take their money and you all will lose out!

  29. Richard Killey

    Like so many have said, there are types of photos I would not want to be forced to take, even though the subject is a lawful one. Lots of gray areas here, but forcing me to provide a service is wrong. Lots of grey!!!

    • James

      Except that they weren’t forced to provide the service – they were fined for violating the discriminated party’s constitutional rights.

  30. Roger Freeman

    I think the main problem with that argument is that it’s not against the Christian’s religion to hang out with ‘sinners’. If you read the bible, Jesus spent most of his time doing that exact thing. I would actually argue the opposite actually – It’s an incredibly hypocritical and anti-christian thing to refuse to shoot that wedding based on that person behavior – Jesus would have been the first person to volunteer to shoot it to show his love.

    • Beehive

      Love them He would. But shoot them?
      Kissing? I now pronounce you man and man?
      Hell no.
      I say that on the Bible’s authority.

      Don’t make me laugh…

    • James

      @beehive: go back to your Bible, friend:

      Matthew 22:36-40:

      36 “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?”

      37 Jesus answered:
      Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40 All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets[a] are based on these two commandments.

      Looks pretty clear that Jesus said, “love god and love each other – that’s all that really counts.” Seems like — as so often happens — you’re leaving the Christ out of your brand of christianity.

    • Beehive

      Yeah I guess loving your children means you’ll do everything they ask you to do.

      “Dad let’s have ice cream and chocolate for dinner OK?”
      “Yes son I love you so much OF COURSE”

    • George

      Yes. Because feeding a child whatever he wants, a choice made by a mind incapable of comprehending long-term consequences, is exactly the same as refusing to do business with someone because you think some old book told you to hate them. I can’t see any difference there. You’re really great with analogies.

  31. Bruce Kaplan

    This one is easy. Yes the photographer here is dead wrong. You cannot claim that religious beliefs are the point of contention. However, she didn’t have to participate either. She could have easily hired another photographer to shoot the wedding for her (with full disclosure and adjusted pricing). Photographers do this all of the time.

    • Beehive

      “Yes the photographer here is dead wrong. You cannot claim that religious beliefs are the point of contention.”

      But that was the point of contention.

      Dead wrong? To go according to your conscience?

      People fail to realise that their religious (and other) views impinge on their career and other aspects of the life and work just like your view on kids and smoking would probably make you uncomfortable to photograph a mother making a 2 year old smoke cigarettes.

      If you explain that “I do not feel right doing that” why should you feeling/belief be made to count for nothing. We are destroying conscience for the sake of “RIGHTS.”

    • Bruce Kaplan

      We are talking about Wedding photography here. Stay on point Beehive. As a photographer, if you are uncomfortable with your clients you can site creative differences and suggest they find someone better suited; most clients will understand that.

      However you cannot say that for reasons of prejudice you refuse to do business with them; not if you have a business licence and solicit to the public.

  32. John

    The bottom line is that the law is unconstitutional. Repel the law. Problem solved. Let business succeed or fail based on the owners decisions and choices. After all. It’s the business owners who are taking all the risks here.

    • George

      And exactly which part of the Constitution is being violated here?

  33. Josh

    The equivalency is not “forcing a black person to Photograph the KKK” but rather is it permissible for a business to refuse service, in keeping with the analogy, to anyone on the basis of skin tone. “If you are not ‘white enough’ you are not welcome here.” Or on the flip side, “you’re not dark enough.”

    It is one thing to refuse service to an organization that has done real wrongs, as opposed to denying service on the account of a superficial belief. It used to be government policy based on religion that blacks and whites should not inter-marry, on the same moral objections and superficial beliefs.

    People hiding behind religion to justify their bigotry, and who wish to have the government to validate that bigotry.

    • beehive

      “”It used to be government policy based on religion that blacks and whites should not inter-marry, on the same moral objections and superficial beliefs.””

      And now its government policy to force people to provide service to someone who has a million other (better) choices.

      Government again.

  34. Matt

    My question is more towards the couple who required her to take them. Why would you want someone who doesn’t find your attraction appealing? Why not go with someone in the first place who will side with you, unless you’re just trying to be a bully. In that case, I can’t support you at all and from what I read, that sounds like that was your intention to begin with.
    If the photographer is turned off by any part of the ceremony, they might not capture the parts YOU as the client want. I’m turned off by piercings (any at all, not for religious reasons, as a kid I saw a few get ripped out on the playground, scared for life) and I’d be hesitant to take their photos. Creativity comes from inspiration. find someone who is inspired by what you’re going to do, the photos will turn out much better that way.

  35. Mark Umbrella

    Shortly, my opinion:
    As a Business Owner you may NOT refuse to shoot a wedding due to sexual orientation.
    As an artist you may!

    However, I have no problem undertaking gay wedding.


  36. Dale

    I am a straight non-christian and I think that she should have been able to refuse to shoot BUT I think she could have worded it a lot better. It would be better to put “I am personally not comfortable shooting same-sex weddings because they conflict with my faith, there are photographers who have excelled in this field and they would be better suited for you” that is not saying that you are completely against it, it is more polite than saying you only cover “traditional weddings”.

    Of course we as business owners can refuse work, I shoot for advertising clients and I would turn down any wedding work I get offered. I know this is a different story but that is the question you raised.

    The modern world has become very sensitive across the globe with politics raised to avoid anyone being offended or discriminated which is why when you turn down work because they differ from your own beliefs or morals then you should take extra caution how you word your reply so you don’t cause offense back.

    • Jerry

      Do you think this would have worked for restaurant owners of the 60s who said that they just weren’t raised to believe that blacks should eat at the same tables as whites and there is a perfectly nice restaurant next door so go there?

      Yes. This is the same situation. There is a business. There is someone in a federally protected class who seeks the business services of a business that serves the public. If the business discriminates against said federally protected class member, it runs afoul of the law. End of story. Case closed.

      See if you all can make an argument that as an gastro-artiste you should be able to serve only patrons whose color matches the white linen table cloths because it upsets your artistic balance, or because you can’t make good food for them but you know people who can, or because your heart won’t be in it because your religion tells you otherwise… and see if you don’t sound like the group of bigots that you clearly are.

  37. Clark Linehan

    It seems to me that there were two very simple non-confrontational ways to have gracefully gotten out of this. One was simply to say you’re already booked for that day and the other is to quote a price at the highest end of the spectrum for that type of work. The first should work every time, the second should work 99% of the time. I never mix work with religion or politics.

  38. Peter

    What’s ironic is that New Mexico still hasn’t decided as a state whether gay marriage is legally recognized or not.

    So much for discrimination.

  39. LetThereBeLight

    This story irks me a bit. No, I am not against people in any form, gay, lesbian, black, white, asian, religious, atheist, whatever so don’t even dare get after me on that… This is a discrimination case that is misconstrued. The photographer has a religious view and she should be able to express it and practice it freely. The lesbian couple have a right to have their ceremony photographed. But to take this to court and force the photographer to do something against her religion is absurd. In fact it completely opposes what this country is founded upon FREEDOM!

    Now, I think the argument here is actually with the lesbian couple pushing for their rights to be heard and in a way are creating something out of nothing. I mean really, if they and the photographer don’t get along based on religious, social or political views then the easy thing to do would be to walk away and find another photographer.

    Obviously they want to fight for equality which is fine but this is a little overboard and a creation of drama if you ask me.

    Now, Imagine if a couple inquired a photographer to photograph them having sex, or worshiping satan, or holding their fire arms, or just plain naked. I feel that if a photographer feels uncomfortable to do the work then they can and should be allowed to refuse service. And they absolutely should have the freedom of speech to voice their opinions of why they are refusing. This story is a perfect example of how this country is diverging from why it was created in the first place; which is for the people to have freedom.

    • Morgan Glassco

      Do you realize that most wars in history have been fought over religion? So for you to say we should allow people to practice their religion freely and openly is also to say we are going to enable death to millions, suffering for the rest. For example, I for one am happy we don’t stone women to death that are not virgins at marriage, but to you, this should be okay so people can practice their religion freely. Deuteronomy 22:23-24

    • LetThereBeLight

      Morgan, Your comment is delusional… I absolutely in no way said that we should enable death to millions. In which part of my comment did I say that or make reference to that or stoning women to death? Please explain this…

      The comment you posted is one of the most absurd and hilarious things I have read in a long time… Please reply and add more!!!

    • Sakari

      He was only pointing out how much you people cherry-pick the words of your holy book. His comment really wasn’t that hard to understand at all.

    • LetThereBeLight

      @Sakari, What do you mean by “you people”? Are you referring to me as someone who follows the bible and hates people who are gay? Please explain your context. You seemed to have failed to read my comment and instead insist on inputting your own language into my voice. This is where you have failed at being a commenter here. Read my post, re-read it, then comment appropriately. Morgan Glassco is trying to put words in my mouth and you are no different.

      Morgan’s comment IS actually hard to understand because he is accusing that I believe it is okay to “enable death to millions” or “stone women to death”. His reference is archaic, un-related to my comment, and completely ludicrous to even imagine that I would believe that. So PLEASE explain to me how it is possible that those are my words?

      Judging by Morgan’s comments here it looks like he has negative issues with people who follow a god. ***His hate for religious people is no different than people who hate lesbians or gays, or people who are different in any way.***

      ***The real issue here is there is a photographer feeling uncomfortable to do something they did not want to do but our government is forcing them to live in a different way. The story became misconstrued as an underlying hate, brought to court, and shoved back in the photographer’s face. The hate seems to be directed at the gay community in this story, which is unacceptable, but after reading a lot of comments here I think the issue is people vocally hate religious people. Which is discrimination. I am not for any discrimination but it looks like you, Sakari, are actually in the camp of hate along with Morgan. Look in the mirror.***

    • Sakari

      If you use a religion that you CHOSE to follow in order to mask your bigotry and hatred then expect to be called out on it. “You people” refers to those of your ilk who quote the bible to further your own agenda and perpetuate hatred on others. I do not hate you or people who like yourself choose to have an archaic book dictate your lives. I tolerate you.

    • LetThereBeLight

      @Sakari, Again, you are putting words in my mouth by saying “people who like yourself choose to have an archaic book dictate your lives”. Do you know me? Do you know which book I follow, if any? Do you know what motivates me? Sure you can “tolerate” me but you do not know me so how can this be?

      Again, read my comment and tell me where I am allowing an archaic book dictate my life? You can’t because you are fabricating things and generalizing about religious people. You assume I am religious but in fact I am responding to an article which raises a simple questions: “the question remains should the government be able to determine the clients you work with?” I firmly think the government should not be allowed to dictate this. Which answers the question in the article. You are going on some tangent…

      You should stop now as you are losing credibility.

  40. Lea Sophie

    What strikes me as totally stupid here is why didn’t they just say they were already fully booked. Photographers often are faced with situations when they don’t want to take a client, maybe personalities clash, but whatever it is, as a professional you don’t tell someone “No I won’t work with you because I don’t like you” instead you tell the client you are sorry but can’t take the job, and if at all possible refer them to another professional who will.

    • estebanbaltierrez

      they probably did, but they contacted them using different names asking for the same date. so they where trying to find what was the reason for the denial.

    • Ed

      The photographer replied to an email that they perform “traditional weddings” which this was a civil union and thanked her for the inquiry. The partner of the client sent for information for a “wedding” on the same day and got the information by email. So the photographer had no choice in the matter because you could say she was trapped.

  41. Pradhan

    This is interesting, here are my comments
    Third and most ridiculous (my comments in brackets) – “there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life (why?, where’s the FREEDOM you always talked about, plus we’re already paying “taxes”). The Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs (beliefs and conduct go hand-in-hand, otherwise the terms is “Hypocrite”, so as to leave space for other Americans (other Americans?, Huguenins are Americans too remember?) who believe something different (Huguenins believe something different too? It’s YOUR BELIEF AGAISNT MINE! Judge is just taking sides here). That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation (Why couldnt the LGBT couple compromise?, look for another photographer and let Huguenins live by their beliefs – it’s an easier solution than taking someone to court), the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people (The couple needs to be tolerant too, don’t you think so?, unless the Huguenins said something OFFENSIVE and handled it poorly, which didnt happen).”

    The LGBT couple in this case and the photographer have similar rights, If you’re listening to the couple and believe they got offended by this incident , imagine how hurt Huguenins because of what’s happening and how their belief is ignored but not who they are going against. I personally think the couple just blew it out of proportion and court is just exaggerating it.

    THERE ARE TONS OF PHOTOGRAPHERS, WHO COULD’VE DONE THE JOB! Why would you want to get into a lawsuit just before a wedding.

    • Ed

      The couple had somebody else do the photography it was only after the ceremony that they sued. This could actually be looked at as neither party having respect for the other, I guess.

    • Sakari

      Because discrimination should not be tolerated in any sense. That is why.

      First they came for the communists,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

      Then they came for the socialists,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

      Then they came for the trade unionists,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

      Then they came for me,
      and there was no one left to speak for me.

  42. estebanbaltierrez

    Big Problem is when religions believes are against civil rights. and people are getting hurt in the battle, not the religious and not the law makers. the people who try to live their live by what other believe is right. named law or religion.

  43. Jose Espenosa

    So, what the court was saying was that it’s OK for LGBT couples to attack people because of their beliefs, but it’s NOT OK for a person with morals to politely refuse on the grounds of their morals? What a load of crap – and typical of the whole “politically correct” disease that is eating away at the heart of our culture.

    Also typical of the whole “We’ll MAKE YOU accept us!” LGBT crowd is using the “trick” of finding out if they would shoot a “straight” wedding on the same day – SANE people would have simply found another photographer, but LGBT’s seem to have a chip on their shoulder and go after anyone they think is “discriminating” against them using the perverse system of laws that ha sprung up around them. It makes them feel “powerful” I guess. I have friends who are gay – great people – and they never would have done something that peurile. If you want people to go from simply turning away from your life decisions and push them to truly hating you, force your way of life down their throats.

    • Morgan Glassco

      Replace the fact they were gay with the color of their skin, their religion or because of a medical condition and you will understand better.

      It’s a good thing people stick up for themselves. I doubt a black person who is “sane” as you put it would just contently walk away if they were told “we won’t serve you because you are black”.

      And I laugh at your comment about them having morals. They have hate.

  44. Morgan Glassco

    I am glad New Mexico didn’t let this photographer get away with it. I will be my cold hard cash this “Christian” has never turned down a tattooed client, probably has photographed someone’s 2nd marriage, hasn’t asked if all brides are virgins. So for them to hide their hate behind their religion is cowardly.

  45. Marisa

    Firstly, I think the title of this article is extremely misleading, and should be changed. Immediately.

    Secondly, as a black, agnostic, semi-wiccan, pansexual photographer, I am probably the worse enemy of many people. With that said, I believe as a business-especially one that is licensed and pays taxes, that operates in the U.S. if you violate discrimination laws and you get called out, you deserve your punishment. If you are going to lie to a couple about being booked, then you would probably do best with carrying that lie all the way through and not accepting any inquiries or bookings for that day.

    Photographing a KKK wedding is not discriminating based on race/religion/etc. That could potentially be a violent situation, and you have every right to protect yourself.
    If you are a fashion photographer, and you turn down a family session, that is not discrimination.

    However, if you advertise yourself as a wedding photographer, you are putting your business out there that you photograph all weddings. Even if you list something like “I specialize in Mormon weddings”.

    Perhaps, it is because I am not a Christian, and therefore have no “moral compass”, but I don’t see how photographing a LGBT couple would compromise your religious integrity. Your relationship with God is your own. Other people or events shouldn’t affect that. By that logic, I shouldn’t have any christian, jewish, muslim, buddhist, islamic, pagan/wiccan etc clients because I do not believe in a higher power/organized religion. Yet, I am somehow able to push my personal (non)beliefs aside and welcome almost everyone that inquires in booking me with open arms, and accepting them as they are and respecting them.

    • Morgan Glassco

      I agree with you. I have friends from a variety of beliefs and we all seem to co-exist just fine. It’s unfortunate that this photographer has chosen a particular sin to choose as the line in the sand. There are plenty of sins people commit per the bible, but somehow sexual orientation is the one individuals seem to regard as one they stand against.

  46. Ed

    If you read the court decision on this then you would actually know how it happened. The photographer was emailed by the client if she would photograph a civil union. The photographer replied with the statement the she photographs “traditional weddings” and since there would be a minister and an exchange of rings then it was not a civil union but more of a wedding. The photographer respectfully declined and told the client thank you for your interest. The client then got her partner to email the photographer asking for prices for the same day, never mentioning that it was for the same civil union. The client received the information because she was acting as if it was a “traditional wedding”. The client went to another photographer and had the civil union photographed. The client sued after the ceremony claiming discrimination because the photographer would not photograph the ceremony.
    Take religious beliefs totally out of it and ask yourself this as a photographer do you really want the government telling you what you can or cannot photograph? In effect the photographer actually used the excuse of we are not the right fit for the job but was still forced to pay 7,000 dollars for using said excuse. That truly means that as a photographer when somebody comes to you that you must take the job, because if not you could be sued for discrimination of some type. Is that where we really want to go?

    • Marisa

      Maybe it’s because I have been discriminated against many times in my life, even in my professional career as a photographer, that I do not take pity on this photography. I am not a huge fan of government policies, but I understand that I must not discriminate. The government does not tell you you have to photograph everyone and everything, it does have laws in place to prevent discrimination.

      Since this photographer did decline, and then went on to answer another “couple” (being that it was the same couple posing as a heterosexual couple), that is where she flopped. If I turn down anyone (which I have never done on basis of sexual orientation, race, religion, etc), I would carry it out the whole way and not book that entire day even if I did get inquiries.

      You do not have to take every job that comes your way. You can say that you are booked, you can say that you are NOT booking during that time, there are numerous ways out of this situation without actively discriminating against the couple.

    • Ed

      So Marisa if you say you are booked but they find out that you are not, then could they not say you lied because you were being discriminated against? The point is really simple that the couple go and find another photographer, which they did. So who was actually hurt in the transaction, the couple or the photographer? So if the photographer would have taken the photos and not given the same quality as other jobs could they then sue because of that? So you would do any type of photography for anybody at anytime? If you lie and say you are booked then in effect you are being discriminatory to that person for a reason and not being honest with your own self.

    • Marisa

      Again, maybe it’s because I’ve been discriminated against, and probably because of the way I was raised. But I belief in letting other people live their life, as I want to live my own life. I have never discriminated against someone, especially when it comes to business. Now, if it’s something like where I know we are not going to be a good match, I simply say I am unavailable. It doesn’t mean I am booked, but it does mean that I am unavailable for that day. And I leave it at that. I’d much rather “lie” to a customer than tell them that I think their choices in a life mate are wrong and they are going to burn in hell.

  47. Bart

    For the people bringing race in to the argument, I really don’t think the parallel applies here. The laws regarding race discrimination in conducting business were due to widespread discrimination in large parts of the country to the point that a black person could not participate in equal commerce at all. I don’t see the same issue when it comes to sexual orientation, the couple seemed to have no problems finding someone they were happy with to shoot their event for example.

    That being said – the law is what it is (pending any possible supreme court ruling), and apparently NM does have a law against denying service based on sexual orientation. One major benefit of our Republic is that this business can choose to move to a state with different laws. One price of doing business in a state is that you must comply with the rules of that state.

  48. Steph

    Reading through all the posts, many are repeating what the photographer should have done. As a business person many don’t tell you all the info you need, you occasionally forget a question. You certainly don’t want a form with a question like that on it either. IF you ever accept SBA grants or other federally funded reduced interest you have to follow the federal rules. Like them or not. If you go into business you will learn everyday the problems that arise. As an owner you bear the responsibility, your employees should know right from wrong, but you make the final decision. Usually doesn’t happen very often unless you make it public then plenty may come looking for a target.

  49. Lester Molina

    I photographed a same sex commitment ceremony once, and swore not to do it again. Not because of the same sex issue, but because they were the most difficult clients I ever had to deal with. For some reason they think everyone is out to get them. I think this photographer will learn a sad lesson: Better to lie to the clients you don’t want, rather than being honest about your beliefs. It’s a rotten world we live in today!!

  50. Sherry Barnett

    My comment is this … Please send any LBGT wedding shoots my way. I’d be happy to accommodate and celebrate with the bride and bride or groom and groom. Congratulations on any and all advancements in civil and human rights.

  51. Shannon

    It is your job to capture the love of two people on their wedding day weather they are gay straight black white or chimps. As a photographer it is not your job to judge or hell even bring your personal beliefs to work, you should show up be a great photographer take great pictures and go home. I’m so tired of hearing people say we didn’t mesh well, that bride would have been a nightmare or the thousand other excuses I hear from photographers about why they turned someone away. You my friend are in the wrong profession and will be quickly run out of business by the happy bubbly and Eagar to please photographers sweeping the world, I am proud to say that I am Happy Bubbly and Eagar to please and I will take any bride you don’t want because I love people and I love Marriage and I love weddings. wake up people discrimination on any level for whatever reason makes you a horrible business person!!

    • Ed

      Shannon not everything is discrimination and also not in just in black and white terms as you put it. Point is that no matter what you do you cannot please everybody all the time. Would you perform a job for let’s say half of what you normally ask for because somebody can’t afford it? If not then you are being discriminatory to that person for a reason even if it is because of money.

  52. Kelly

    I once had a couple ask me to photograph their wedding… it was going to be a pirate themed wedding and they asked me to come in costume. It wasn’t something I was interested in being a part of, so I respectfully declined. I didn’t feel like they were the ideal clients for me (based on other things, in addition to the pirate costume) and I didn’t feel like I was the best photographer for them. The photographer/client relationship is vital in getting great photos that everyone is happy with. The government has no business dictating who you work with.

  53. abrianna

    If a homosexual couple can sue someone for not shooting a wedding due to that photographer’s belief system, then a Christian couple can sue a homosexual photographer for not shooting their wedding due to the homosexual photographers belief system, correct?

    If that happened, would the lawsuit proceed? Would it even be a national story?

    • George

      If a wedding photographer in America refused to photograph Christian weddings, they’d be out of business simply because there wouldn’t be enough non-Christian weddings for them to shoot to make a living. Also, can you cite an example of a Christian in America ever being denied service based on their religion? Let’s stick to real world problems.

    • Sakari

      But George all these people can do is think up red herrings.

  54. Tara

    I think she should have said “I religiously do not believe in same sex marriage, but hey, of course. Let’s all be uncomfortable. You’re booked.” The true historical reason for the separation of church and state was not to protect people from the church, but rather people’s religious beliefs from the government. Unfortunately, it’s been completely twisted and warped and people have been indoctrinated to believe the warped version. People are not bigots if they do not religiously believe in something. I have two gay people that I love dearly in my life. It doesn’t make me a bigot to not believe in their lifestyle. It isn’t my business how they choose to live their lives. I still respect them and don’t rub my beliefs in their face. However, I shouldn’t be forced as a business owner to do something I don’t religiously believe in. The government is way over reaching in our lives/businesses more and more and we are all going to be sorry that we let them have so much control one of these days.

    • Jerry

      Actually dear, check your history books. It WAS to protect the government from religion. Check the writings of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson:

      When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.
      – Benjamin Franklin: in letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780

      History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
      — President Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

    • Jerry

      and “lifestyle”? Really? You might want to get out and read a book once in a while. I have the same boring ass lifestyle that many straight people do. I get up. I walk the dog. I cook breakfast. I eat breakfast. I go to work. I have a lunch break. I work. I have some coffee. I work. I leave. I come home. I do laundry. I cook the meal. I walk the dog. I go to bed. Where’s this lifestyle that you would have a problem with because maybe I’m not doing something right?

    • Beehive

      I tell you…we ARE SO going to be sorry…

  55. Agus Rod

    They demand the photographer to accept by force to do something against her belief , but gays and lesbians and other type of sexual perverted can not respect and agree to disagree with other people that do not accept their lifestyle. They want respect? So respect others too.

  56. Marisa

    Although I do give big props to the SLR Lounge for having such an attention grabbing title…even though it wasn’t true. I typically stay away from topics like this, because it angers me to the core. Being that I, a non-christian, am more open, accepting, and loving than most people who claim to follow Christ.

    At the end of the day, why can’t people just let people be, and accept them for who they are. A personal choice to marry someone of the same sex has NO IMPACT on your life whatsoever. And if it does, you need to re-evaluate yourself.

  57. GioPhoto

    As a photographer I have the right to choose my clients for whatever reason I see fit. By refusing to shoot the gay couple they were in no way causing any harm by denying service. Nobody should have to sell out on their religious beliefs no matter how obsolete they might seem to some, to accommodate for someone else’s personal beliefs. The gay couple could have just ended it by choosing a compatible photographer, instead of making someone pay for standing their ground. We have the right to choose. There are many photographers out there profiting from lgbt unions, there is no shortage. For those who decide not to cater to the lgbt community and miss out on the business, it is their choice

    • George

      Ok, you’re treading awfully close to saying that all photographers are the same. We’re not. You want clients to choose you because they prefer your work to the work of others, right? Well, that’s what this client did, and they were rejected. They were materially harmed because they were forced to settle for a product they deem inferior to what they believe they would have received from their photographer of choice.

    • GioPhoto


      Let me rephrase the first part. “As a free citizen who enjoys free enterprise”. The kind of harm you are talking about is not related to harm caused directly to a person that threatens their life or health. It is simply business. Just as the photographer cannot force them to marry someone of the opposite sex, they should not be able to make the photographer pay for their religious beliefs. Since when did one group’s beliefs become more important over everyone else’s. Isn’t it the beauty of this country to have a choice not only as a consumer but as a business?

    • George

      What if it were an interracial heterosexual couple and the photographer opposed that? What if the couple were handicapped and the photographer believed in eugenics? You have the right to be a bigot; your business does not.

    • @George

      George, It does not matter. Everyone has the rights to their beliefs. It doesn’t matter if I agree with yours or not, nor does it matter if you agree with mine. As someone from Hispanic descent, If I were to be refused services because I am marrying someone of African American or someone White, or just because I am Hispanic, I just look for service elsewhere. If they don’t want to cater to me than that’s their problem. As much as I don’t agree with their views or beliefs I can’t force them to do anything. Why would I want to do business with someone who does not want my business. Even if they were forced to do it, do you really think they’ll do their best for you? If their heart is not in it, do you think you will get the pictures you loved in their port?

      As for me and my business, I am my business. My business represents me, who I am.

    • George

      Wrong. Your business exists separately from you. It is it’s own entity, one with no right to discriminate. You seem to forget that we tried letting businesses discriminate; we tried letting the “free market” (a myth if ever there were one; no market is ever free) allow those businesses to sink or swim. And guess what? It didn’t work. We lived in a society rampant with bigotry and the situation was so odious that we were forced to implement laws to remedy the situation. And if you don’t like those laws, close your business.

    • GioPhoto

      If you must go into details, then let’s. Not all businesses are separate from the individual. There are many businesses including photographers out there called sole-proprietors. There is no legal distinction between the owner and the bushiness entity which in the case of a sole proprietorship are the same.
      Anyway I applaud you for sticking to your guns, compliments of your constitutional freedoms. I on the other hand will stick to mine. Everyone has a right to their beliefs, straight or not, religious or not. Just let each other be and stop imposing.

  58. Tara

    I’ll work on that reading. Thomas Jefferson was conflicted about religion, but he did believe in freedom of religion, religious freedom not dictated by the government, not being persecuted for your religion (such as how you run a business).
    Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom
    I. Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do . . .

    The second paragraph is the act itself, which states that no person can be compelled to attend any church or support it with his taxes. It says that an individual is free to worship as he pleases with no discrimination.

    II. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

    Jefferson’s bill for religious freedom
    It provided that “…no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever…nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

    I find it funny that I got insulted when in these days we are all called to be so open minded. Open minded except when it comes to someone believing in something that doesn’t go along with what’s politically correct these days. Not open minded if someone say… believes in a holy book in it’e entirety. Then that person needs to examine themselves. Everyone has a Life style. As in how the choose to live their lives. How about it’s not my business how anyone chooses to live their lives as it is no one’s business how I choose to live mine or what I believe in or how I run my business. The point is it seems we will very soon be no longer be allowed that. I have no idea why these people getting married want to force people to do something they don’t feel comfortable with. I just don’t get it. I would want someone there who I genuinely like and have similar values with. Ugh. So sick of walking on egg shells trying to never say the wrong thing and people wanting me to sell out on what I believe in and being called a bigot because of it. And then getting drive by’s by people that sit safely and comfortably behind their computers. I call that religious discrimination.

    • George

      How about, by refusing to provide service to an LGBT couple, you’re now claiming that you have the right to impose your religious belief on them? What gives you that right? If you claim that they’re forcing their beliefs on you, and that’s wrong, then why is it ok for you force your beliefs on them?

    • Sakari

      I stopped reading when you connected religion with business.

    • GioPhoto

      Tara I completely agree with you. Hi again George! And George, What country do you live in? Where does Tara speak about forcing religion on anyone? If anything she is talking about protecting our religious liberties. If the founding fathers of this country thought the same way you do, believing a group has the right to impose their beliefs on everyone, if they believed everyone should sell out on their beliefs to embrace a common creed, then we would be still living under a church dominated state. It is because of these constitutional liberties that we now have the right to choose whether or not to believe in God, to practice a religion, to marry someone of the same sex. It does not however allow anyone to impose or force their beliefs on anyone.

  59. The Truth

    1. why do Gay people think the have more righs than any one else … please if you are Gay don’t compare it to race because being Gay is a Lifestyle Choice ..

    2. The World Gay Agenda to use television and mass media to make being Gay and NORMAL and socially accepted is succeeding but ask yourself this if its is so normal why do you have to try so hard

    3. Tolerance is good thing but how come Gay people get so mad ad have such low TOLERANCE for people who don’t see things there way (its a one way street for Gay people you must tolerate me not the other way around)

    4. Freedom of choice… the right to choose who you clients are due to subject reflection… what many miss in this case is that in photography which is an art-form your subject reflects on you the artist … should I not have the right not to shoot a subject which i deem to be a poor or inaccurate reflection of me…. or what i deem to be in poor taste artistically (if I were A high fashion TOG can you force me/ sue me to use your 365lb model because i discriminated against her because of he weight ) he size goes against my person beliefs about what mMY high fashion foto business stands for

    • George

      1. What rights do the LGBT want that the straight community doesn’t already have? More rights, please. You have no clue what you’re talking about, do you? Also, being gay isn’t a choice. There’s this thing called science, you should look into it.

      2. Oh, you’re a conspiracy theorist? I should have known. That explains the complete lack of thought in your comments. There’s no point continuing to argue with you, it’s all way over your head anyway.

    • Sakari

      1. I never chose to be gay
      2. I’m sorry I lost my gay agenda pamphlet. I will have to go to HQ in San Francisco to pick up my new one and I’ll get back to you on this one.
      3. Please look up the definition of tolerate.
      4. When you operate a business open to the public then you must follow this thing called the law. If you are shooting for yourself and not operating a business then please shoot whatever you like. P.S. learn to think outside the box a bit, I could think of much more creative things to do with a 365lb model than a ‘normal’ one.

    • George

      @The Truth: Do you want to know a little secret? It’s about the Gay Agenda. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, ok? I’m gonna lay out the ENTIRE Gay Agenda for you. Ready? Here we go:

      Have the same rights as straight people.
      Stop getting discriminated against because of sexual orientation.
      Stop being the victim of violence because of sexual orientation.
      That’s pretty much it.

  60. Jack

    If you are asked if you are available on a specific date and you say yes, only to find out later the couple is a same sex couple and you want to decline, what are you to say? I’m not religious but I wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing a same sex couple getting touchy feely while shooting their wedding day, it would make me think of what they do between the sheets. I don’t have the slightest problem with the gay lifestyle, it deserve the same rights as those living a straight lifestyle but what they do in their private lives I prefer not to see. I’m curious to know if the gay couple would agree to work out a proposed post court ruling deal with the photographer, dropping the fine assessed in exchange for photographing their wedding knowing she simply screwed herself financially?

    • Sakari

      I don’t have the slightest problem with the straight lifestyle or anything but I wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing an opposite sex couple getting touchy feely while shooting their wedding day, it would make me think of what they do between the sheets. I mean how dare they make my own personal hangups affect myself.

  61. George

    So many nonsense arguments. First of all, asking a black photographer to shoot a KKK rally is NOT the same thing. In that case, the photographer is being sent before a group with a long history of violence toward people like him. He has a legitimate fear for his life. Has a gay wedding ever lead to the severe beating or death of a photographer?

    Ok, the whole “just hire another photographer” nonsense: the couple in question chose this particular photographer. It’s reasonable to assume they felt that the quality of her work was the best among photographers who fit their budget. Being forced to hire someone else requires them to accept a product of lesser perceived quality and/or lesser perceived value. This is causing harm to the couple. If we assume that Harvard is the best college in the world (for the sake of argument, let’s say it is), and they refused to accept me as a student because of my sexual orientation, I most certainly could attend another school. But I would receive a lesser education and be harmed by it. This is a similar situation.

    Finally, the photographer’s right to her beliefs: by allowing her to refuse clients based on her beliefs, we are, in effect, allowing her to impose her beliefs on others. How is that more acceptable? Better that the LGBT community (not just this one couple, but the entire community) have it’s rights protected as individuals, than businesses, which are not only less numerous, but are not even people!

    • Ed

      And George are not the couple in fact trying to impose their beliefs on the photographer? The couple went and got another photographer and were not hurt in any way shape or form. So where does the tolerance truly come from and where does it truly stop? Ok the KKK situation is not good, but everybody can truly come to you as a photographer and request that you take whatever picture they want you to take, and you cannot refuse or that is discrimination.

    • Sakari

      Ed you have completely missed every point that George made.

  62. Ed

    First off let me state, I am sure it doesn’t matter to most, I am straight, don’t believe in gay marriage, and have shot a couple of civil unions so obviously I have no problem doing that. But all those are my choice and mine alone and I have no idea why I should force that on anybody else.

    The court decision even states that the photographer could post in her store or on her web page that they do traditional weddings and don’t believe in gay marriage but we will follow the law and photograph the marriage and or union as required. In the decision it states the photographer told the client that it goes against her believes so she would have to decline and thanked her for the interest. Why was that not enough for the client to politely go find another photographer, which she did? So who was more hurt in the transaction, the client or the photographer?

    Now was the photographer wrong in my opinion? Probably yes. Was the client wrong in my opinion? Probably yes. She was informed of the situation and then got her partner to email back and act as a traditional wedding was taken place to get information. That sounds like entrapment to me, but hey that just me.

    The real issue is really that if you stand for nothing you will fall for everything. Most say she was discriminated against, which maybe she was, but this opens a whole can of worms that can never be closed. Really if you call yourself a photographer than that is what you are a photographer. You might specialize in weddings but you are a photographer and that truly means that somebody could come to you and request that you photograph their newborn child. You can lie and say you are booked but then they can get somebody to call and request the same schedule for a wedding and you except, they now have you. With this decision you cannot say well I don’t do newborns, that is age discrimination. There are so many more examples that could be put in this same context.

    Now you spend all your time fighting frivolous law suits and you have to go out of business. Now with all that being said do you really want to give the government the right to tell you what you have to photograph? If so then you will stand for nothing but truly fall for everything!

    • Sakari

      Hmm I don’t believe in your straight marriage. Gee that felt weird typing.

    • George

      There’s a big difference between saying, “I’m a food photographer and I don’t think I could do a good job shooting your wedding” and “I’m a wedding photographer, but I won’t do YOUR wedding because my religion tells me to be biased against you.” The photographer wasn’t being asked to do a type of photography beyond the scope of her skills and experience. You wouldn’t ask a baseball player to play football, but you might ask a shortstop to play 2nd base.

    • Ed

      The thing that makes you a photographer is the camera. So you are telling me it would be ok to refuse to take a newborn shot because of the age? What does your camera have a problem with taking pictures of a newborn? And Sakari that is fine that you don’t believe in my straight marriage. That is totally your choice and I have no problem with that. So why do you have a problem with me not believing in gay marriage? Why do I have to believe in gay marriage when I am not forcing you to believe in my marriage? The point really is that both parties you could say were not respectful of the others choice and or opinion so move on with life. Again the couple found somebody to take the pictures and were harmed in no way so where was the problem to sue, unless just for the money? George you can keep making everything a this or that situation but when the government comes and tells you what you can or cannot do remember you just have to do it whether you agree or not. See how you feel then!

  63. BobW

    I dunno.

    What if instead of photographer, we put the word “landlord”? And if instead of the words “photograph our wedding” we put “rent a house”?

    Suppose that I own one rental property – just a second house, not an apartment building. I rent that out for extra income. Let’s suppose that I don’t like…photographers. You know, they’re flakes. They never pay their rent on time. They party all night. They do weird stuff with all their cameras. I refuse to rent to photographers.

    Let’s suppose that I have a house for rent in an area that you want to live. It’s the perfect area, the perfect house, the perfect price. You come over, look at the place, fill out the application. As we’re talking, everything is going great, until I get to the bottom of the application.

    My eyebrows raise.

    “Oh, you’re a …. photographer?”

    “I’m sorry, my wife rented the house this morning. I forgot to tell you. Have a great day.”

    • Sakari

      Exactly. Laws are in place for a reason. You cannot discriminate as a business. Your door must be opened to ALL persons. Stop hiding behind religion to justify ignorance and bigotry its really getting old people.

  64. Maggie

    I think that she should have either photographed the ceremony or said, she is otherwise engaged.
    All this religious carfuffle is nonsense. However, a gay photographer would still shoot a straight wedding, if he or she was asked…. I think this is rather a sad case.
    The belief has to stand aside at times – I am Atheist, however, I accept that others do believe and have no problems shooting at normal, Christian or any other weddings.

  65. Sakari

    Love is love. Photography for a straight marriage and a gay marriage should have the same focus, capturing the commitment between two people pledging to spend the rest of their lives together. If you aren’t able to capture that then you probably shouldn’t be shooting for a straight wedding either.

    • LetThereBeLight

      You are right about what wedding photography should be about. However, you are missing the point of the story. The problem here is a photographer did not want to shoot a wedding and instead was taken to court.

    • Sakari

      She was taken to court because she discriminated against them on behalf of her business. This broke the law. This is why the business was taken to court.

    • LetThereBeLight

      Thanks for stating facts, I read the article so I do not need a regurgitation… You are saying that if they do not want to shoot a gay ceremony then they should not be shooting straight marriages either… Why? Can a photographer not choose their subjects?

      You are avoiding the question presented of the article “the question remains should the government be able to determine the clients you work with?” I say NO!

    • Sakari

      No, I did not say that at all. And in your next question lies the heart of the matter, you are unable to differentiate between ‘business’ and ‘photographer’. As a photographer you can shoot anything you please. As a business owner open to the public you must cater to ALL people equally.

    • LetThereBeLight

      Sakari, please do not sidestep what you said, here is a quote from the first comment YOU posted: “If you aren’t able to capture that then you probably shouldn’t be shooting for a straight wedding either.”

      Like I said, the question posed in the article is: “should the government be able to determine the clients you work with?”

      I say NO, a government should not be able to determine the clients I work with! I am a photographer and I do not shoot porn, boudoir, naked people, satan worshipers, racists, etc. Now that I have said that should I be punished by your definition if a skinhead asked me to shoot their rally and I decline because I do not believe in that practice? If a couple of nudists asked me to photograph them naked as engagement photos is that discrimination if I decline because I feel uncomfortable with their nudist practices? I am therefore subject to discrimination based on the law. That is okay with you?

      And, I have photographed gay people so do not even attempt to argue that.

      So… where is your argument for why the government should be able to dictate what we shoot?

    • LetThereBeLight

      Sakari, please do not sidestep what you said, here is a quote from the first comment YOU posted: “If you aren’t able to capture that then you probably shouldn’t be shooting for a straight wedding either.”

      And, I am sorry, you are wrong again, I am able to differentiate between photographer and business, I am both and therefore understand the controversy at hand here. I do not believe the government has a right to tell me who I have to do business with.

      Like I said, the question posed in the article is: “should the government be able to determine the clients you work with?”

      I say NO, a government should not be able to determine the clients I work with! I do not shoot pornography, boudoir, nudes, satan worshipers, racists, etc. Now that I have said that should I be punished by your definition if a skinhead asked me to shoot their rally and I decline because I do not believe in that practice? If a couple of nudists asked me to photograph them naked as engagement photos is that discrimination if I decline because I feel uncomfortable with their nudist practices? I am therefore subject to discrimination based on the law. That is okay with you?

      So… where is your argument for why the government should be able to dictate what we shoot?

    • That's Not Love

      Sakari: Of all the posts on this thread yours are the most intolerant. So much for ‘love is love’..
      Should a photographer whose father died of lung cancer be forced by law to shoot a promo for Philip Morris?? Should a family photographer be made to shoot pornography??
      It’s called a ‘conscience’ Sakari, and you don’t appear to have one.

  66. Gina

    Latest court ruling…. all businesses MUST accept any and all business offered to them OR provide written proof of reason not to accept. If said stipulations are met and are deemed adequate, said business must refer to another business of like kind and that business MUST accept or Provide written proof of reason not to accept and so on until a satisfactory outcome is achieved. Should any proof be deemed insufficient or be found false, the business owner will be immediately arrested for crimes against humanity.

    • Ed

      Gina so by that one statement she could refer the client to another photographer to provide the service. Now if it says all businesses then as a photographer you now cannot specialize. There is no problem with the camera taking a picture the only choice in what the camera takes is the photographer. That is the problem exactly. If the photographer refuses to shoot anything they can be sued for discrimination of some type or refer the client to somebody else.

      Again I would have no problem shooting a civil union or a gay marriage, in fact I have done them. I just don’t feel it is the governments right to tell me I have to shoot anything that anybody comes in and wants me to shoot, with the fear of being sued for discrimination of some type.

  67. Sakari

    Hanssie your choice of title really was in poor taste.

  68. Jack

    Bottom line, fecal matter on ones penis after sex isn’t what I want to think about when I see two men kissing all night while photographing their wedding. Can I decline and explain THAT to the couple without being sued? I wouldn’t think about a straight couples sex life during a wedding. I just don’t want to be subjected to intamacy at a gay wedding. Bottom line, I think it’s disgusting. If I think about saying this and someone invents a mind reading device and it gets passeded by congress can I be sued for thinking this?

    • Sakari

      Another person who places their own hangups on others. And more implausible scenarios! You’re a dime a dozen.

    • George

      If I work at Target, can I refuse to ring you up for your purchases because I don’t want to think about what a disgusting bigot you are? When I deal with pleasant, intelligent people, this isn’t a problem.

      Also, if you find yourself thinking about gay sex but not straight sex, you may not be as straight as you think…

  69. Jack


    if you were ringing me up at Target you wouldn’t know anything about me. The only way you would know I was a “disgusting bigot” is if you voted into congress the mind reading contraption stated above that would allow you to press legal charges over my thoughts.

    We’re freelancers, we decide the assignments we take on. Find another photographer.

    • George

      Ok. If you wanted to hire me as a photographer and I said, “Sorry, Jack. Your belief in Christ offends me. You also spend too much time talking about penises and fecal matter, and your immaturity grates on my nerves. I won’t work for you,” you wouldn’t find that insulting?

  70. Jack

    nope. (…and I’m not religious) I would say you’re not cut out for the job on a personal level and simply move on.

    ..but I am beginning to see your point standing beside you. I would add that Doctor Jack Kevorkian is a good man, a man of the people, someone I guess I should strive to be more alike.

  71. Sanity Is Lost To Lust

    Two homosexuals putting on rings makes them ‘married’ in the same way going to Scotland and doing your best Sean Connery impression makes you a Scot.
    I believe that you are free to do whatever the heck you want, but I also believe you should not compel others to approve.
    The term marriage is suddenly up for redefinition? Fine. Soon the polygamists will be using the same logic to marry as many women as they want, and then people will want to know why they can’t marry their pets.
    And no, I won’t shoot their ‘weddings’ either.

    • Charles

      This “issue” has been the same throughout history, the majority always finds a way to belittle the minority. Native Americans, then African Americans, then women, immigrants now the LGBT community. Why not refuse all of the other groups of people I have mentioned, since they all have been deemed as sub-human at what point in history using the basis of “religion” to further segregate them from the rest of society. I am tired of people using the bible and religion as a means to further establish their own personal dislike or dis-agreement for other people. Because the bible states a loooooot of things that we as a society (meaning America) don’t do or are illegal.

  72. Jordan

    At the end of the day, it’s not fair that she was discriminatory. Plain and simple. If she didn’t want to photograph this wedding because it clashed with her beliefs, then you just respectfully decline and just say you’re unable to do it but don’t delve into details of why. If you give the client a reason that it could be taken (rightly) as discrimination, then you’re just asking for trouble.

    • Gina

      I dont’ think any of you peons even realizes that it’s considered discriminatory not to do it nomatter what the reason is. The base reason is still there. So she says “I’m already booked” They emailed her under another name and she accepts – discrimination. So she says “i’m sorry I’m unable to shoot it”, the couple emails as they did and she’s available for something else. The question then is “why weren’t you able to shoot ours?” and she’s screwed anyway. You just don’t get it…. this is now a precedent and should never have been. You are now NOT in control of what you shoot. Anyone can take you to court for not taking their business under the guise of discrimination.

  73. Brandon

    I love talking about business ethics and contributing to the discourse of owning and operating a photography business and the inherent challenges that come with the job.

    What I don’t love seeing is what’s happening in the comments, which is due in part to the sensationalistic title of this article, which is probably drawing people into this conversation for the wrong reasons. Let’s talk about business and learn something in the process, not criticize each other/communities for political/religious beliefs.

    At the end of the day, you have a job to do. You pay taxes and are expected to follow the same laws all business owners have to follow. Personally, I welcome opportunities to photograph new experiences, if and only if to grow as a photographer and an artist. Yes, you need to have a connection with your clients and it is fair to say that if you don’t have a connection, then you should turn down the job tactfully. But, drawing this out into a religious/political battle isn’t productive. It gets hits though… And I have honestly lost a bit of respect for SLRLounge because of this.

    It’s all in the message.

  74. Jack

    it’s entrapment and malicious on part of the couple.

  75. Jake

    I’m a photographer. I’m also a Christian. While I would shoot a homosexual commitment ceremony for $5,000 like any other major event that requires a lot of time and work, I don’t see how it’s the government’s right or responsibility to force me to work with people.

    Unless I’m very much mistaken, if you have express religious or personal beliefs that do not allow you to kill people, the military cannot put you into a combat situation, even under a draft… yet the government can force you to do things that ultimately violate your religious or spiritual beliefs anywhere else in life? Including business? There are plenty of other photographers who will gladly take the business in this economy. I don’t have anything against gay people, but quite frankly, it seems like this couple is just rather immature and intent on stealing from hard working people. This entire thing is entrapment, and based on behavior, I would bet the couple is militantly anti-Christian.

    To add to that, their reason could be something as simple as specialization. For example; “I shoot families, senior photos, and certain types of events.” Then a gay couple tries to sue you for turning them down and it would be like suing McDonalds for not selling Chinese food… it’s not a product that I offer. Sure both are food, but the require different ingredients, preparation, and process.

  76. Genaro Diaz

    Good …… sorry for my English language of translator program.
    I always use the same example: we live in the future 2100 and there are no male-female couples because they no longer needed to have children ….. but I fell in love with Mariajo, which is now my wife, and everyone points at me saying I’m a pervert, because I’m not gay ……. Would it be fair?.
    I just separated the people into good or bad, if we were all the same the world would be boring and we would be less intelligent.
    Greetings from A Corunha, Spain, Europe.

  77. Danny

    As a Christian photog myself, I would have humbly and politely declined as well no matter what the state or federal law says. We hold to a higher law which is God’s and it supersedes any human established law. It is one thing to hate gays (discrimination) and another not to agree with their lifestyle while still respecting their humanity.

  78. tom dandy

    what would happen if a gay photographer refused to take pictures of a straight couple. Oh. Nothing. They would just go to the next photographer. get over your selves. I have nothing against gays and lesbians, but i don’t understand, if someone doesn’t agree with them they throw a fit. So in turn they are doing the exact same thing on the opposite side of the spectrum. they are suing because that photographer didn’t share their same beliefs, Why cant they just be adults and understand they are not on the same page, and move on. Once other peoples beliefs are not forced down every ones throats, maybe, just maybe they will be more excepting.

    • Thomas Horton

      Are there anti-discrimination laws where straight couples are identified as a protected class? If not, then no, nothing would happen because no laws were broken.

      Not doing business with a person in a protected class is breaking a non-discrimination law.

      That’s the difference.

  79. Keith Hoskins

    I’m a photographer in the UK and a church going Christian. I really think this is a massive case of dual standards from the photographer. Do they never work on Sundays? More importantly however:
    How many times do they ask their portrait, commercial, event and other clients about their sexual orientation before accepting a job? Never, I bet, and yet they happily take their money.
    Does she turn down Native Americans because they aren’t signed up to one of the Abrahamic faiths?
    Assumptions, I know, but the point is this is the same as putting a sign up saying ‘No Blacks’. My beliefs are just that, mine, only a fascist state tries to impose one way to think and no one is stopping this photographer having her own beliefs, just making sure she doesn’t impose them on other people.

    • tom dandy

      Its funny you guys say this stuff. You act like she is the most horrible person in the world. Everyone has their limits. What is something you can’t stand? What if i had a religion, and when we got married the married couple would stab a dog to death. If this is something you are not comfortable with, should you be sued and fined? I am not saying that gay and lesbian marriages are like stabbing a dog to death, but she might just be uncomfortable with that. Does that make her a bad person? No. Just like it doesn’t make the lesbians getting married bad people. i would think you would want to have people that wanted to be there and felt passionate for your situations. I’m just saying as an artist you have every right in the world to decide what you will and will not shoot. I am also a musician, and no one can tell me that i have to play somewhere or i will be sued. I turn down places all the time, cause they are not to my standards. it is just all part of business. oh well. I guess everyone wants a world with rainbows and buttercups. where everything is fair. Man i tell ya, you think you have problems cause a photographer wont take pictures at a same sex marriage, think about all the stuff goign on in Syria. those are real problems.

  80. Jim Malmstrom

    This is utter insanity and one more example of gay people needing to project their sexuality to and ONTO the rest of us. The legal aspect of this is outrageous enough but to me the plaintiff’s are looking for more than a win in court, they are desperate in their desire to announce their way of life.

    It’s not about acceptance, gays have been (and should be) looked upon as human beings with all the rights “stratight” people enjoy but alas, that’s not enough. Heterosexuals obviously don’t go through life with this same need to voice their sexual preferences but the gay and lesbian community must, MUST force this nonsense down our throats seemingly at every turn.

    If the Supremes choose to hear this case and the defendant loses (which I doubt very much) it will mark a turnng point in relations between to the two sides.


  81. Ryan

    As a photography you should have the right to decline any customer that wants you to shoot something, you feel uncomfortable shooting, no matter the situation. am i going to get fined beacuse i refuse to do a nude shoot.

    That’s ridiculous they took it that far and had them pay that much money.

    • Thomas Horton

      No you would not be fined. Because, currently Nudes are not a protected class governed by anti-discrimination laws.

      If at some time in the future nudes are included in anti-discrimination laws as a protected class, then yes, you would be fined if you broke the law.

  82. Metronomic

    As a business owner you do not have the right to refuse service to someone based on something they cannot change, like their sexual orientation. It is discrimination, and it is illegal. If the business owner was too stupid to refuse this couple in a tactful way without citing her religion, she got what she deserved. Religion is a choice, sexual orientation is not.

    • Thomas Horton

      “Religion is a choice, sexual orientation is not.”

      I suspect that there are people who would disagree with both parts of this statement.

  83. Brian Stalter

    I still think about this case quite a bit.

  84. Pete McWade

    You can’t allow the government to violate your rights of religion. Clearly they decided to not do the shoot based on their religion which clearly conflicts with the clients sexual orientation. Its not a law that you have to accept a persons sexual orientation. Clearly they don’t accept the businesses religious orientation nor does the court.

    The photography business did nothing wrong and they have the right to refuse service to anyone at any time.

    • Thomas Horton

      Normally yes, but there are exceptions for what is known as protected persons.

      Like almost all our “rights” there are limitations and exceptions that are governed by law. Don’t like the law? Petition your legislators and get the law changed.

      It is sad that we even need to have anti-discriminatory laws. In a perfect world there would be no need. But people have been discriminated against and are still being discriminated against. We are an imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

  85. Reggie Mitchell

    Articles like this are educational reminders that when we interact with the public as photographers, we are subject to more than copyright laws and the laws that we are familiar with in the realm of photography. Had the Hugenin’s known the ramifications of explaining they may have taken a different course.
    I’m now going to have to school myself on my local/state and even federal laws regarding this subject.

    And I thought mastering lighting was difficult….geez

  86. norman tesch

    i think with any buisnes you have right to take any jobs you do or dont want. i think they were at least professional enough to tell them no right away so the couple didnt have to jump through hoops last min to get a photographer..that alone gave them no case in court…i do think they were they were wrong by giving an excuse. just say i cant do it at this time it would have been a non issue. they dont need or entitled to your reasons.

  87. William Emmett

    I personally have no prejudice to anyone who wants to stand in front of my lens. As far as shooting a gay wedding, it would be an “opportunity” that would increase my photography business. Although I don’t shoot traditional weddings, I would shoot a gay one, probably only once, but I would shoot it. Since living in New Orleans, I have become immune to all sorts of situations people from other parts of the country find repelling. Last Fall, I shot a series of portraits of transsexuals (male to female) and was quite successful in the process. I’m still getting business from that shoot. Which brings up another thing. If you’re making your living in photography, everything in front of your lens is fair game for income. When you make decisions based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other discriminatory thought, you’ve limited your income. If you feel so strongly about the event you’ve been asked to photograph, why not do the shoot and donate the proceeds to whatever charity supports your belief. Your gain is the experience of how to make the shoot, and you can pass this education on to other photographers, and make a substantial contribution to your church, or other charitable group.


  88. Ian Sanderson

    It seemed to be a very difficult position for both parties. I can’t help but feel a lot of agro could have been avoided if the Photographer would simply have said, “sorry, we’re booked that day”

    • Thomas Horton

      The same way that land lords used to say they had no vacancies when blacks were looking for a place?

      That could easily back fire if it were later found out that someone else booked the photographer on the same day they told someone they were booked.

      If you have to lie, you are probably doing something unethical.

  89. Thomas Horton

    To me, part of being a professional is being able to separate your personal life from your business life and that includes your personal beliefs.

    I am a professional in my industry (most people are) I can’t allow my personal beliefs to affect my professional actions. I would get fired if I did.

    • Mark Romine

      For some individuals their personal beliefs are who they are and they are not separable or negotiable. For some those values and standards are more important to them than any job and in some cases even more important than their immediate life. This country long ago claimed to have been built upon religious freedom but a huge battle now seems loom in the not too distant future as to which is greater, individual personal freedoms or religious freedom. These two forms of freedom seem to be butting heads right now.

    • Thomas Horton

      People are free to follow their beliefs. But they have to recognize that if the practice of their beliefs violates the law, there will be consequences.

      A person does not have the choice whether to follow the law based on their personal beliefs.

      Again my opinion but if a person won’t separate their personal beliefs from their profession, they can not be a professional. One of the definitions of being a professional means abiding by the ethic of the profession even if they are in conflict with one’s personal ethics.

      Ask any person in the military, we deal with this on a continuous basis. So do other professions.

    • Mark Romine

      For some people their beliefs far exceed importance of either their profession or the making of money. There are things in life that are more important. Therefore, some are wiling to suffer the consequences of violating human laws even though said laws are subject to change and often do at any given time in human history. Therefore, we all have the choice of what laws we will or will not follow and we may or may not suffer consequences. If a person is operating from the point of view that human laws are highest form of law, that is a dangerous place to put yourself. Just ask those who lived in Nazi Germany from the early 1930s to the mid 1940s.

      Thomas wrote, “One of the definitions of being a professional means abiding by the ethic of the profession even if they are in conflict with one’s personal ethics.” Where is that definition published?

      I think, your view of what is or is not professional is very narrow. First, what law of ethics or board of ethics has even been established under this government or any government for the photography industry? What is the legal code of ethics that photographers are required by law to follow? To my knowledge there isn’t one. I’ve never been required to read it if is does exist. So until that is established how can it be in ‘conflict’, as you say, with one’s personal beliefs?

    • Rob Harris

      A person’s spiritual beliefs should define how they behave in all aspects of their life – personal and business. If a government entity decides that a law should be created which would cause someone to do something counter to their beliefs, then – yes, ignoring the law is the right thing to do. Not all laws are morally right.

  90. Bobby Taboada

    Love is Love people! We are too hung up on bringing religion into things when it has nothing to do with it. If you want the job, take it. If you don’t, don’t. But telling someone it’s against ‘your religion’ really?! That is just a way to use your discrimination as an excuse and think you can get away with something. haha. And if you say no without a reason? Well… that’s saying your discriminating also.
    Besides, If you love what you do, why would you turn down a job because someone’s life doesn’t agree with your religion? I think it’s time for her to find something else to do as far as I’m concerned.

    In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  91. Jesper Ek

    As long as your are not hired to photograph something illegal you should take on any serious client. Leave your own politics, religious beliefs at home..

  92. Samuel Sandoval

    One word, what? Forced…?

  93. Quang Tran

    As a part time hairstylist, I personally refuse to do anyone’s hair if it has not been thoroughly washed, and will not allow me to shampoo before the cut. Why? Because I don’t want to get germs from their hair and bring it back to my family. Should they give me a lawsuit? I don’t think so.

    In this case, If some one hire me to photograph GAY wedding, I won’t refuse the services. However, I will talk to them I have no problem to shoot your wedding, but I don’t have a good passion to do it. I don’t warranty all the photos come out good. If they still want me to do it, I will add that notes on my contract, and make them sign.

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