“Americans in the marketplace should not be subjected to legal attacks for simply abiding by their beliefs. Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy? Of course not — and neither should the government force this photographer to promote a message that violates her conscience.”
Attorney Jordan Lorence, explaining why he will appeal to the New Mexico Supreme Court a ruling that his clients, a Christian couple who own a photography business in New Mexico, were guilty of violating the rights of a lesbian couple by declining to handle their same-gender “commitment ceremony.” In 2006, Elane Photography of Albuquerque politely refused to photograph the ceremony — prompting a complaint to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission that business owners Elaine and Jon Huguenin discriminated based on sexual orientation. After a one-day trial, the Commission ordered in April 2008 that the Huguenins pay more than $6,000 in costs.
On Monday the New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld the ruling by the Commission that the Huguenins were guilty of “sexual orientation” discrimination under state anti-discrimination laws, writing that the “Ku Klux Klan is not a protected class …. Sexual orientation, however, is protected.”
“The owners of Elane Photography must accept the reasonable regulations and restrictions imposed upon the conduct of their commercial enterprise despite their personal religious beliefs that may conflict with these governmental interests,” the judges wrote. “Services, facilities and accommodations are available to the general public through a variety of resources. Elane Photography takes advantage of these available resources to market to the public at large and invite them to solicit services offered by its photography business.”
Lorence goes on to say that because the constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling artists to promote a message they disagree with, ADF will appeal the decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court.
New Mexico recognizes neither same-gender “marriages” nor civil unions.