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News & Insight

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Appeal of Wedding Photographer in LGBT Case

By Hanssie on April 8th 2014

‘Do Gay Rights Trump Religious Rights?’ a headline reads in a local paper.

Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography

Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography

A few months ago, we wrote about the case of Elane Photography, who in 2006 was contacted by a lesbian couple, Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth to photograph their commitment ceremony. When Elaine Huguenin, owner of the photography company declined, stating that she only covered “traditional weddings” because it was directly against her religious beliefs, the couple filed a complaint to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. The commission ruled that the photographer violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws and fined Elaine for violating the “sexual orientation law.” The case then went to the New Mexico Supreme court and finally, the U.S. Supreme Court.



Yesterday, the Supreme Court refused to hear the Elane Photography’s appeal and without comment, thereby upholding the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling. In the Supreme Court filings, Elane Photography makes the case that, as artists, they “create expression for paying customers,” and therefore cannot be compelled to create expression that goes against their beliefs. And by forcing them to photograph a same-sex ceremony, their First Amendment right for free expression would be violated.

In other recent cases, there have been lawsuits against a baker, a florist and an event location who have refused services to same-sex couples. Last month, SB 1062, a measure that would have allowed businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian customers for faith based beliefs, was vetoed by Arizona’s governor after heavy criticism from the business community.


The question I posed in my previous article about this case remains the same, should the government dictate to business owners who we work with, even if it conflicts with personal religious beliefs (especially if those religious beliefs conflict with popular opinion?) As artists, should we be forced to “create expression” for customers that are in direct opposition to personal beliefs?

Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

[Via @NPR/Feature Photo: Flickr Creative Commons]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. areyoumostlyallclueless

    Have any of you studied the history of race relations in the good old USofA? Anyone alive in the early 1960s? Does anyone understand that we used to refuse service to people of color? And does anyone remotely get that refusing service to someone based on sexual orientation is more or less the same thing?

    Do you understand that in the future people will look back on those that feel it is OK to not shoot a gay wedding because of religious beliefs will be looked upon as blacks not being allowed to drink from “whites only” water fountains or go to white schools?

    Too many people just absolutely suck. And when you drape yourself in religion you give the anti-religious zealots way too big of a target. My favorite all-time bumper sticker: Jesus: Save Me From Your Followers!

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    • Graham Curran

      Why is it an expression of being a Christian to be anti-gay? Did I read the new Testament wrong?

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  2. Paul corsa

    If you run a public licensed business in the United States , denial of service for your “beliefs” would reopen the whole issue of “Separate but equal”- a regression our society can not afford in the 21stCentury. No one is forcing you to accept a life style you do not believe in, only to provide the service your business offers to anyone who comes thru your door and is able to pay for it. This is what you are obligated to do as a public enterprise.

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  3. EatingPie

    Per the above citation, New Mexico’s law says “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…” But as has been raised before, what of *quality* of service? So would something like the following be legal:

    “As a business, I cannot legally turn down your request due to your race, religion, age, sex, or sexual orientation. As an individual with legally protected religious beliefs, I would not be able to guarantee the best possible service for your wedding.”

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    • Jacob

      So because someone does something you don’t like, your going to intentionally do a shitty job for that client and expect the same amount in pay? That is ludicrous!

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  4. Daniel Rivas

    I’ve read the article but not the replies so sorry if someone has already thought of this. When setting up the consultation wouldn’t you know that the couple is gay when you ask about them? You can then say you’re booked or don’t travel that far or whatever. I don’t see how you can be forced to work for someone if you’re not available.

    With that said I would like to say that I don’t have any problem with gay weddings or gay people. In fact I am photographing my first gay wedding in a few weeks. We have already done the engagement session and I loved working with them. They are two of the nicest guys I met.

    Why use religion as the way out. Religious beliefs can cause many problems.


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  5. Wing Wong

    The situation really sucks for both parties involved. Neither side started out wanting to do harm to the other side. :(

    From a legal perspective, it’s pretty clear cut:

    New Mexico has a 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,” ]

    From the court opinions:

    Points 2-14 establishes her photography services as a business.

    Point 15 notes that there was an unspoken agreement within the business to not shoot ceremonies that ran against their religious beliefs.

    Point 16-20 describes their interaction, via email. Potential customer indicates they wanted a photographer for their wedding and indicated it was a same sex ceremony. Photographer responded in a vague manner(no yes/no response). Asked for clarification, photographer responded that yes, they do not do same sex marriages.

    We are researching potential photographers for our commitment ceremony on
    September 15, 2007 in Taos, NM.
    This is a same-gender ceremony. If you are open to helping us celebrate our day
    we’d like to receive pricing information.
    [Testimony ofWillock; Exhibit E at 1-2.]

    The reply:

    Hello Vanessa,
    As a company, we photograph traditional weddings, engagements, seniors, and
    several other things such as political photographs and singer’s portfolios.
    [Testimony ofWillock and Elaine Huguenin; Exhibit 1; Exhibit Eat 1,3 & 4.]

    Second response:

    Hello Vanessa,
    Sorry if our last response was a confusing one. Yes, you are correct in saying we
    do not photograph same-sex weddings, but again, thanks for checking out our sitel
    Have a great day.

    Considering that the photographer had an unspoken(and unpublished) policy of not doing anything against their beliefs and that their first response was vague and did not have an answer, they understood they could run afoul of the New Mexico law protecting same sex couples.

    It looks like they tried to handle it politely and civilly.

    As for the bride, she indicated that it was a same sex wedding and asked whether they were open to doing the wedding photography. From the cool responses, the photographer was not open to it.

    I don’t understand why the couple pursued a photographer who was not interested in photographing their ceremony. :( I mean, look at the countless events and training for how to establish rapport with your clients, how to send clients to fellow photographers who would be better suited to shoot their session.

    It’s a tough issue because it’s a belief thing, it’s a civil rights thing, it’s a prejudice thing, it’s a tolerance vs acceptance thing, and it’s a legal thing. To top it all off, it’s a wedding thing.

    Most likely, these kinds of conflicting thoughts came up in the parties minds:

    “If you just walk away and find another photographer who DOES want to photograph your wedding, have you just given up your civil rights by being discriminated against?”

    “By pursuing the issue legally, are they defending their civil rights or are they punishing people whose belief doesn’t condone their way of life? ”

    I think the law protected the civil rights of the couple, but at the cost of the freedom of the photographer.

    The goal of the laws are to offer protection so that people have rights equally. However, how do you handle things when you can’t provide equal rights to both parties because ruling in favor of one or the other effectively impacts the personal beliefs/rights of the other party?

    I think the sentiment amongst business owners of all kinds with varying beliefs, is that that the fallout of this ruling is that those first emails are no longer asking, “if you are open to”, but rather, “I will decide if I want your services or not”. It is an unfortunate unintended consequence for the businesses, but equally unfortunate is that it creates an air of confrontation between potential customers and businesses.

    Balancing equality amongst a diverse population is probably going to be an eternal tug of war. :(

    In an ideal world, the two parties realized they were incompatible as service provider and customer, harbored no ill feelings towards each other as individuals and human beings, and gone their separate ways.

    Disagreements and differences of beliefs and lifestyles shouldn’t have to end up a legal/fist/verbal/etc. battle. :( Sometimes, just agreeing to disagree after talking and understanding each others’ viewpoints is perfectly fine. I wish more people would try that option. Really.

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  6. Crystal

    I think the discrimination based on the religious convictions of the photographer is wrong. In most faiths adultery is a sin, do they vet all of their clients to make sure they’ve never been involved with someone else before marrying their spouse? Do they make sure their clients never take the name of the Lord in vain? Do they make sure the client is keeping the Sabbath holy? And on that end, are they working on the Sabbath, therefore disobeying their own religious beliefs? How far will they go to discriminate based on their religious beliefs? Or is it only the LGBT community that they’re singling out?

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    • Mens Sana

      It’s not your business who they decide to refuse. It’s their conscience.

      I am not asking you if you are a criminal before I provide you a service (although for certain services it’s compulsory to ask and you don’t call that “discrimination”). But if you come to me saying that you killed somebody and not only that you find it normal, but you are proud of it (“gay pride”, remember?), then it is not the same situation and I will certainly refuse you.

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    • Jacob

      MENS SANA do you even understand that you just compared your reactions to both MURDER and Homosexuality and the response was the same? That my friend is bigotry. Get over yourself, the bottom line is if you work you get paid and the client gets images they love, both parties benefit equally.

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    • Mens Sana

      Jacob, not being able to understand a simple example, to follow a simple logic and screaming “bigotry” as a sole argument is STUPIDITY, my friend.
      Maybe for you it’s only money that counts. Not for me, if you don’t mind.

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  7. Gavin

    Think a lot of people miss the point…its unfortunate that this is written into law, but if you allow a business to refuse to provide a service based on a belief then any business (bank, refuse collection, mechanic etc, etc, etc,) can refuse to provide their services you could end up with a situation (although unlikely) where certain elements of society (small town) cant function on normal day-to-day basis.

    Annoying and as stupid as it is, whats now required is a definition of services which must be provided…a wedding photographer not being one.

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    • Wing Wong

      Humans are the weak link in the laws. :( But yeah, the whole reason for all of the laws, is to ensure that the majority of the people behave in a manner that the majority of the people can tolerate, if not agree with.

      There really weren’t any real winners in this legal ruling, because everyone took a hit from the fallout.

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  8. Matt

    In an internet age where we can express opinion about any company or individual so freely I don’t see why she’s in so much legal trouble. Comments will be made and those that support her will continue to use her, those that are offended won’t.

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  9. pacocho69

    Actually it’s so simple; you can’t discriminate people on the basics of sex, religion, age, race and sexual orientation, and no matter which are your religious, political or social belief, because to take a event’s photos don’t violate these belief. The religion of Elane forbid her to married with a same person sex or marry them, not to take photos of another two people. I think this is just a clear case of prejudice, as simple as that. If an atheistic photographer, don’t take the job in a hypothetical Elane’s wedding because she’s catholic, adventist or whatever her faith be, then that photograph would be committing the same mistake.
    I agree that religion isn’t a hobby but a set of principles a person choose to live by, but those principles must respect the rights of other people. By the way, has a belief isn’t a religion patrimony.
    I haven’t any issue against religion, my family are christian, i was baptized even, but i truly think that ours rights like human beings must be ahead from ours religious belief, because what make us equal is our humanity, not our respective belief, and that allow us to be citizens with equal rights, otherwise a religious person will be above from another that isn’t, and that’s something that are happening today in some countries.
    So, you choose a set of principles to live by, but never at the expense of mine.

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    • Rick

      Depending upon the religion, it really isn’t that simple. As I stated above, if I serve as a witness to a marriage ceremony that is against my beliefs, that causes a conflict. I don’t have to be the primary witness; just physically there.

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    • EatingPie

      I don’t think simple is so simple! Per your post, it’s illegal to discriminate based on religion… and sexual orientation.
      Here we have conflicting legal rights. Religious Belief vs. Sexual Orientation. Forcing the photographer to go against their religious beliefs is discrimination (isn’t it?). Not photographing the gay couple because of their sexual orientation is also discrimination (yes?).
      So when rights come in conflict, how do we decide?

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    • Mens Sana

      @EATINGPIE The difference is that the photographer didn’t force them to do something, but they want to force the photographer to do something against her beliefs. It’s so simple.

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  10. piXelRider

    Even as an atheist and someone who has no problems with LGBT, I would take photographer’s side here – her services are not something that you can’t live without and she’s one of many other wedding photographers – they have choice, they won’t in fact suffer from this rejection – they don’t understand she’d suffer when forced to do this job.

    On my own, I’m refusing to do catholic weddings :D

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  11. Robert Gainor

    Would you really want a photographer photographing your ceremony if they really didn’t want to be there?

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    • Shane Glen

      Seriously, I thought the same thing. You want someone that fervently disagrees with who you are and what you believe photographing your special day?

      How completely and utterly boneheaded to try and force an artist to make art for you against their will under threat of legal repercussion.

      What about atheists that refuse to do religious weddings? What about right to refuse service?

      If religious beliefs no longer have any place in society, then I move that all religious conscientious objectors be forcibly made to sign up for the draft. If her beliefs mean nothing to the Supreme Court, neither should anyone else’s.

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    • Mens Sana

      Yes, they want to force anyone to accept their lifestyle.
      Remember that all started with “why do you care what they do in their dormitory?” Now they sue people who refuse to conform to their wishes.

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  12. LetsGetItTogetherPeople

    This is a tough one to understand… On one hand the gay couple has a right to be gay and should not be turned away from service. Yet the photographer has a right to religious beliefs and should be allowed to do business with whomever they choose. How does the US Supreme Court justify this decision? What about a pornography company asking a baby photographer to photograph their nude actors. How would that stand up if the photographer declined?

    What scares me as a photographer is that this opens the door to a massive influx of people suing anybody they want because they think it is against their rights. What are “rights” and what is “discrimination”? If you don’t feel comfortable working for someone you have the right to quit. As a business owner if you don’t feel comfortable doing work for someone you are required to do that work… Doesn’t make sense.

    I cannot agree with the photographer as I personally do not deny business from anyone. I keep my beliefs and thoughts separate from my clients and do not let that interfere with what I do. At the end of the day it is not I who judge someone based on their beliefs so, I will let that fall on who or whatever makes those judgements.

    I would love to see the photographs from a photographer who is forced to shoot something they do not want to photograph… Perhaps quality alone will weed this situation out.

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    • Rick

      While I’m not a wedding photographer, this situation would be very tricky for me as well. In my belief system, marriage is a sacrament and witnessing a marriage (not necessarily as the primary witness) is actively taking part in it.

      Having said that, I would have no problem in shooting the reception or anything else outside the actual ceremony. I don’t know if there was any room to compromise like this.

      I also thought about a similar pornography scenario as you mentioned. What about a pro-life or pro-choice protest group asking you (with the opposite view) to photograph the event?

      In terms of being forced to shoot something, what would the photographer do? Keep the lens cap on? Shoot at max ISO or too slow shutter? While that would be such an extreme, I’m pretty sure the photos would not be anywhere near up to par. And for such a critical moment for the couple, why chance that?

      I think this case will just be a catch-22 (i.e. both sides lose).

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  13. NusultanTulyakbay

    Although I don’t agree with the photographer’s business practice of “no gays”, I am much more disturbed by the actions of the State of New Mexico, the “Human Rights Commission” and for that matter, the US supreme court. Yes, the discrimination of any group is a very bad thing, but the government having that much power over a privately owned business should be frightening to every business owner.

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  14. Drew Pluta

    My biggest problem with all this is what it means for the contract labor industry as a whole. We’re now basically mandated to work for anybody with the money to pay. So as a fashion photographer can I deny a shoot for furs if I’m a vegetarian? Can a gay black wedding photographer deny services to a couple in the KKK?

    As photographers we don’t sell by the unit. A cake is a unit, a flower arrangement and so on. Personal philosophical perspectives are not in play with unit sales of mass produced items. Nor is a relationship with the client required. Every interaction with our work has perceptive qualities and subjective decision making about each moment. All of this requires that we have an internal acceptance or sympathy with our subject. We are present in every photo. We contribute to the experience of every room we step into. This could be a scary first step toward some bad times for us.

    Looks like wedding photography just got more expensive to the client.

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    • Morgan Glassco

      It’s funny how religions are protected group so they cannot be discriminated against, and then was to use their religion to discriminate against others.

      We are in America where people are afforded equal rights and opportunity.

      You are going to be another outdated conservatives just as we had in the past that thought Blacks and Woman shouldn’t have the same rights and opportunity. In your response to me that I am unable to reply to, you asked that I think about Life and Death things. I tried but found it irrelevant. Being gay has no life or death bearing on the photographer and to imply such is ludicrous.

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    • shamb

      Choice and discrimination are two completely separate things. You can make your choices as long as they are not discriminatory. Denial of service based on race, creed, sex and sexual orientation are discriminatory.

      This is not about photography, its about Elaine Huguenine making a stand and confusing her belief with her business obligations: a person can have belief but a business must operate within the law. Most importantly, she wasn’t compelled to give her reasons for refusing the gig, but did so as part of her stand on the matter.

      As regards the core issue at hand, anyone who can’t understand ‘if God didn’t like gays, there wouldn’t be quite so many of them walking around His creation’ probably needs a little help making the right decisions in general, never mind business sense.

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    • Drew Pluta

      @ Morgan – You fail to address any of the relevant points I raised. If you find it impossible to think of any issues of importance in life, then that just sounds like a personal problem or one of intellect. Sorry for you on that.

      What you are advocating and what this law supports, is a system where employers can require people to work for them under force of law even when the worker disagrees with the terms . That is called slavery . Apparently you’re a fan.

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    • Devin Hunt


      A gay, black photographer could deny services to a KKK member’s wedding because KKK members are not a protected class under US law, unless the photographer states he won’t photograph them because they are white. Just like you can deny a shoot for furs because fur wearing people are not a protected class.

      The problem I see with this case is that the photographer wanted to exercise her religious freedom, but religious freedom does not mean from from law. I could come up with some crazy religion where I need to sacrifice a virgin to please the gods, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be brought up on murder charges and found guilty. The first amendment guarantees religious freedom in the sense that the government cannot impose a religious standard on the country, but that doesn’t give religious people carte blanche.

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    • Amy

      @Morgan How can you be so incredibly ignorant? You’re either woefully ignorant or a flat out liar. It was the DEMOCRATS (i.e. LIBERALS) who consistently voted against civil rights laws. The KKK was started by… DEMOCRATS! Woodrow Wilson (he was a progressive Democratic president in case you didn’t know), instituted segregation in the Federal Government. Oh and who was it that had a special White House screening of “Birth of a Nation”? Woodrow Wilson, progressive Democrat! MLK and his father were Republicans. It was Republicans who repeatedly put the 19th Amendment up for a vote. In 1918, when Republicans controlled the House and the Senate, it was finally passed. (You probably don’t know that the 19th Amendment was Women’s Suffrage.)

      So how about you stop with the lying open a book for a change. That would be great.

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    • Amy

      Oh yea, what was it that LIBERAL DEMOCRAT Lyndon B. Johnson said?

      “These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don’t move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there’ll be no way of stopping them, we’ll lose the filibuster and there’ll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It’ll be Reconstruction all over again.” –Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (D., Texas), 1957

      And let’s not forget this little gem…

      “I’ll Have Those Niggers Voting Democratic For The Next 200 Years.”

      So yea, talk to us some more about outdated Conservatives you ignorant libtard.

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    • Mens Sana

      Same absurd arguments. Gays are not discriminated at all, they have exactly the rights that anybody else have. They have the right to marry a person of the opposite sex.

      Perhaps in the future they’ll sue people who don’t want to “marry” them.

      More than that, they don’t have the right to force someone to provide them a service. To say that they’ve been “discriminated” shows how twisted a human mind can become.

      It’s even more stupid if you think that they could be married without a photographer, so it’s not like they where denied marriage (although that’s crazy too).

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  15. mel

    To say that religion is based on fairy tales is as narrow-minded a statement as those claimed to be narrow-minded for believing in it. We all have our different belief systems and morals based off it. Hatred is not only fostered by religions but by lack of regard for our fellow human beings. Where your regard for human beings comes from is determined by the aforementioned morality. The country was based on religious freedom – your right to have it or to not have it, which includes their respective beliefs. I see discrimination in both aspects of the case. It may have been a bad choice for the photographer to say why, but if asked by the couple later she would have had to own up to it anyway. And the couple should have moved on when she first said she would not photograph them. It is not the government’s place to determine whom we should serve as private business owners, especially if it goes against our own practices, beliefs and morality.

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  16. Morgan Glassco

    I am really happy to see this.

    She didn’t know the laws in her own state and is paying for it. You don’t get to make up your own laws based on your beliefs. Don’t like it, take the fight to the state, that simple.

    Businesses are not people. Business do not have religious beliefs. It would be super Ironic if a company couldn’t discriminate against an applicant based on religious beliefs, but then could deny them service based on them.

    I’m sure a lot of employers chose to pass on applicants all the time based on “religious” beliefs but just say “we found a better candidate”. This is no different and will probably be what happens next time she is asked to shoot a wedding of a same sex couple. But there is no need to act as a superior who is above working with someone who doesn’t meet their standards of normal or acceptable. It is even against their own religious teachings which I find hilarious. Oh religo’s, if you only really followed the word you supposedly are cowardly hiding behind…

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    • Drew Pluta

      So you want the law to force you to work for people you ethically disagree with? Think of a perspective you hold on a subject you find incredibly important. I’m not talking “I like red you like blue” kind of stuff. I mean life and death, ruin for humanity kind of ethics. Now picture the state forcing you to work for someone who holds the opposing view of the world. Imagine the work is directly touched by this difference of perspective.

      Even as employee’s we get to decide who we work for. If I don’t like the corporate policy of Chick Fillet I don’t have to work in their offices. But you’re saying I’d have to work for them if they wanted to hire me as a photographer. It doesn’t match.

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    • Ben Perrin

      I’m with Drew on this. In fact Drew put it into words better than I could.

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    • S Ragan

      A business is considered a person in protections under the US Constitution, and have been since the 1800’s. See “Corporate Personhood”. The only Constitutional Amendment that has been in court and denied a Company/Business/Corporation is the 5th Amendment, as it is more specific to an individual. Case law can be cited to show that the Business or Corporation is made up of a group of individuals with like minded beliefs.

      As a Business, therefore, she was entitled to express her Right to Freedom of Religion.

      This is an example of the Tolerant only being tolerant of like minded folks, and vehement persecution of those who disagree.

      In an attempt to legislate common sense in this country, we’ve created such division, and the majority of us, in the middle, are suffering for it.

      The problem lies with the client. They’ve gotten their 15 minutes of fame now. I wouldn’t ask an anti-gunner to photograph an NRA event, a Jewish photographer to film a Palestinian Pro-Statehood rally, nor a Christian to shoot a Gay Wedding.

      It’s common sense, and the Client should be sued for wasting the courts time on Their own stupidity. I’m sure, however, they’re quite smugly satisfied. Karma doesn’t discriminate.

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    • shamb

      What is interesting is that her lawyers clearly know the law (i.e businesses can’t claim belief), and were isntead claiming that she should be treated as an artist rather than a business.

      That this failed means that the law does not consider a wedding photographer to be an artist but a business. Thats probably more important in its implications than the LGBT vs personal rights angle the main article is taking, especially so when the court thought it so clear cur that the court simply threw the matter out!

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    • E. Parfitt Photography

      Sorry but you are wrong.. I own three businesses and I am sole proprietor of them all. The company IS the person, especially photography. Photography is artwork and an artist must be a part of the event, must enter into the occasion. It would be very unprofessional indeed for a photographer to blandly agree to do a job they could not do with their best enthusiasm. What you have is gays trying purposely to trip people up because of their religiuos beliefs. THAT is discrimination.

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  17. Dan

    An individual who does not work for the government should not be forced to shoot anything regardless of their beliefs. Our government cannot discriminate, but we as individuals not associatedd with any government entity are allowed. If one wishes to have a lifestyle that is not the norm then maybe Elane Photography should file a lawsuit saying the couple violated her part of the “Sexual orientation” law as well as she should sue the state for their discrimination of her right to choose who she wants to photograph.

    This whole sexual orientation shenanagans is getting real stupid!

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    • Dan

      New Mexico bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.
      This does not come under any of these conditions as the couple was tring to hire Elane and thus they were discriminating against her beliefs. She should counter sue under the same laws they sued her.

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  18. Petr

    Considering this discrimination is wrong. Discrimination is the limitation of rights. They do not have the right to be photographed by chosen photographer. So simple it is.

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  19. Nicholas

    The photographer should simply have declined the job with no explanation & the couple should have moved on to a willing photographer. Do you really want a photographer that’s doesn’t gel with you? Both parties should have respected each other. This case could easily have been about a white photographer refusing to photograph a black wedding is it all that different? The lesson here is if you discriminate don’t do it publicly.

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    • Kee Spees

      I agree with you. If you don’t want to do it give an acceptable reason, like busy or whatever. Sending out the message that it doesn’t comply with your religion is something you should keep to yourself and not spread to the world.
      I would certainly not give permission to have a wedding photographed by a narrow-minded bigot. I will look elsewhere for a photographer with an open mind.

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    • Mens Sana

      Really? And why must somebody be forced to lie? Which is also against his beliefs?
      It’s not about “discrimination” at all. It’s about crazy people who are desperate to force everybody to accept their lifestyle. They don’t have the right to force anybody to provide them a service.

      You can’t choose not to be black, but you can choose not to have gay sex. It’s not the same, no matter how hard you try.

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  20. Craig

    “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” Meaningless?

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  21. Chris

    I think it’s ridiculous that someone is being forced to shoot something they don’t agree with. Someone says hey I need you to shoot my wiccan wedding, so if my beliefs don’t agree with their practices and I refuse to shoot it, I am breaking the law now? I just don’t think the government should be getting involved with this. If you get refused, go on to the next photographer that will gladly take your money.

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  22. Devin Hunt

    Being a gay photographer, this puts me in an interesting predicament regarding this case. On one hand, I don’t want to be told as a photographer that I would have to capture someone’s wedding if I highly disagreed with their lifestyle. Though I think there are many other legal reasons you could give besides picking one that is biased against a protected class of citizens. Sorry, I am all booked that day.

    However, at the same time we do offer our services to the public and it should be available to all those interested in our services. I would hope that I could be professional enough to put my personal feelings aside and do the best job that I can if someone was really interested in my services. Taking this concept to the extreme, I can envision areas of this country where it would be near impossible to hire a photographer willing to capture a same-sex wedding.

    I think, in the end, we have customers in which we do not always agree with their lifestyle but still take them on as clients. I would be interested to see if this photographer also refused her services to previously divorced couples or to couples that already had children and claimed it was for religious reasons. Otherwise, I find her “religious beliefs” argument hard to swallow and feel she is picking and choosing when her religious beliefs apply in order to discriminate against people she finds less desirable. I think I have to agree with the court’s ruling in this case.

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    • Jim

      If I remember right, it didn’t happen quite as simply as described in this article, the customer tricked her in a way:
      I believe the photog originally declined stating other business reasons.
      The customer (a lawyer herself) then contacted the photog under a different name and tried to book her for a traditional wedding on that same date.
      When the photog agreed to that second request, they had an explanation and that’s when the whole religious belief came about.

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    • Mens Sana

      Why somebody must be forced to lie to make you feel better? That is also against Christian principles.

      Professional doesn’t mean spineless as a prostitute. Professional means to provide a quality service ONCE YOU AGREED TO DO IT.

      If she is “picking” or not, it is her conscience and decision, not your business.
      So you find normal to demand the “right” to get married with a person of the same sex because of the sole reason you “feel” attracted, but you also find abnormal for someone to refuse to do something because they don’t like it.

      You gays have a terribly twisted mind. You trample over biology, society and any principle for your lust, then you come with false principles to make the others submit to your lifestyle. Oh, and of course we are not allowed to come with stupid arguments like “I was born like this”.

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    • Marina

      I am a highly involved amateur photographer, shooting mainly wildlife. I have no issue whatsoever with any person’s life style and my friends range from atheists to highly religious people, homo – to etero – sexuals and so on. I can’t therefore comment on how the photographer felt on this occasion as I don’t share her religious feelings. I would say, however, that given my love of animals, if somebody ‘forced’ me to shoot an animal killing session (e.g a hunt) I would revolt. Not only would I not produce good photos (as I cannot get emotionally involved to artistically capture the essence of the ‘joy’ of killing or hunt) but I would suffer in the process, thinking that I am being forced to promote what I disapprove of. I expect these feelings, strong as they may be, get accentuated when religion is involved.

      On the other hand, I can’t understand why any person would insist on having the professional services of somebody who clearly refuses to do so when (a) there is choice of other professionals and (b) it is not an emergency or a life threatening situation. If a doctor said the same thing to any person in a life threatening situation I would agree, the doctor should be found guilty. But art is different. When you choose an artist you choose a person who can capture your sensitivities, the beauty you feel within. By her own admission the photographer was unable to do this on this occasion. Would the couple prefer to hire her and come up with crap photos? What purpose would that serve? And how is the freedom of the photographer / artist protected by this ruling?

      Sorry but I think that the couple made a ‘political’ statement by taking the photographer to court and the courts were wrong to support this statement. Freedom is for everybody not just for some. And what is more important, you can’t force artists. Art works best when it is free and comes from the heart. If that wasn’t the case everybody who has read 3 books on lighting would be Annie Leibovitz.

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  23. Kee Spees

    Religious believe is based on 2000 year old fairy tales. Religion has brought nothing but misery into this world. No matter what religion we are talking about except for Buddhism as that seems to be the only one not hatred based.
    Religion is something between you and this imaginary figure and should be kept private. There have been Islamic persons working at the supermarket that refuse to handle pork or alcohol and refer you to a colleague at a different cash registry. This is totally unacceptable in a free society.
    That’s my 2 cents.

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    • Gupta


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    • AJ

      Wow, those are some sweeping generalizations. Any person subscribing to a particular set of beliefs would tell you that they believe in something as real as the screen in front of your face.

      Anti-discrimination law can never really get rid of discrimination, it can just discourage it from being so obvious. I would prefer that any business owner have the right to refuse someone as a customer. I realize the implications of that ability, but I also fully support a denied customer’s right to promote that they were denied. If a business owner is discriminatory on the basis of race or sexual orientation or anything else that may seem ridiculous to the general public, then they would stand to lose much of their business from that publicity. That kind of transparency would probably be much more motivating rather than the government mandating they must serve everyone. If the couple in this story had gone through with the ceremony and Elane Photography was mandated to shoot the ceremony, it’s hard to believe that the photographer(s) would be compelled to deliver the same level of service/enthusiasm/intimacy with their client.

      In your example about store cashiers, I would assume that the store owner actually could not hire those employees on the basis that they could not perform the required duties of the job. It has nothing to do with hating someone else, but a realization that someone’s beliefs and the things a job requires don’t align.

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    • dave

      And there is nothing good about liberalism that FORCES me to like people they choose or forces me as a business to do business, under threat of taking my lively hood under fines and punishment, with people they choose. Freedom is dead under liberalism.

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    • LetsGetItTogetherPeople

      Kee Spees,

      I can pick apart your comment quickly and easily:
      “Religion is something between you and this imaginary figure and should be kept private.”
      – You say this is a “free society” therefore people are in fact free to openly state their religion. First amendment my friend.

      “There have been Islamic persons working at the supermarket that refuse to handle pork or alcohol and refer you to a colleague at a different cash registry. This is totally unacceptable in a free society.”
      – Actually in a free society you are allowed to have your beliefs and your example of someone refusing to handle something in the workplace is far from what is at issue. Islamic people refusing to handle pork or alcohol is an understanding between the worker and employee. It sounds like the situation you presented is fine with the business owner of the supermarket.

      And the “2000 year old failry tales” has never been proven false. In fact, more scientific theory and discovery has been proven false when compared to religious “fairy tales”.

      Just as you are free to express your atheism and showcase it online in forums like this others are also free to express their right to religious freedom. What you have brought to the table here on this forum however is a lack of understanding of how this country works. It is based on freedom to do whatever.

      What do you have to say about the photographer and the decision of the US Supreme Court? Or are you just here to trash the religious community? Roughly 84% of the world is religious so you are fighting the majority…

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    • Ben Perrin

      Seems like you are the only one full of hatred here Kee. Your bigotry is overwhelming. I’m highly against people being forced to do anything that is against their personal conscience. In this case the photographer was doing no harm to anyone, just refusing to do something they didn’t believe in. No where do they try to force their own beliefs (that I can see) on anyone, they are just trying to stop someone from forcing their beliefs on them. The photographer is the victim in this case not the couple. The couple can choose another photographer and still be clear of conscience but the photographer can not choose to do the wedding with a clear conscience.

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    • Pro-Freedom

      So basically what you’re saying is that in a free society, folks shouldn’t have freedom of religion? That’s not a free society. That’s bigotry against religious folks. What you think of someone else’s beliefs doesn’t matter. This country was settled for the sole purpose of religious freedom, and it is people like you who believe that some bigotry is okay but other bigotry isn’t, that are helping to erode our rights. The government has no business regulating the free market. Should a black baker be forced to bake a cake for a KKK gathering, despite obvious reasons why they may not want to? Should a gay caterer have to cater a “pray away the gay” event for a church so as not to be discriminating based on religion or should he be able to respectfully decline? Remember, when the government gets involved and starts regulating things, we lose freedoms, not gain them. If you think otherwise, you have no idea what freedom is.

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