The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ruled against
a photographer who had refused to photograph a lesbian couple's
commitment ceremony in 2006.
The high court ruled that Elane Photography had violated the New
Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA), which protects individuals from
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. New Mexico is one
of 21 states plus the District of Columbia with such a law.
“We conclude that a commercial photography business that offers
its services to the public, thereby increasing its visibility to
potential clients, is subject to the antidiscrimination provisions of
the NMHRA and must serve same-sex couples on the same basis that it
serves opposite-sex couples. Therefore, when Elane Photography
refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the
NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding
between people of different races.”
Elaine Huguenin, the event photographer who owns Elane
Photography, argued that it was her religious right to refuse service
to gay couples.
“We believe that the First Amendment protects the right of
people not to communicate messages that they disagree with,”
Huguenin's lawyer Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom
Lorence added that he is likely to appeal the ruling to the U.S.
In separate bur related events, a New Mexico county clerk on
Wednesday began offering marriage licenses to gay couples as several
legal challenges makes their way through the courts.
Mexico Republicans to sue clerk issuing marriage licenses to gay