Christian Photographers Ordered to Shoot Homosexual ‘Weddings’ Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

elane.photographyALBEQUERQUE — Attorneys for a Christian couple in New Mexico who were told by the courts that they may not refuse to shoot homosexual ‘weddings’ in the state have appealed the ruling to the United States Supreme Court.

As previously reported, Elane Huguenin and her husband Jon run Elane Photography in Albuquerque. In 2006, when Vanessa Willock, a lesbian, approached Elane and requested that she photograph her commitment ceremony, Huguenin declined, stating that she only covers traditional weddings.

The situation soon ended up before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, who ruled against Huguenin in 2008, stating that she was guilty of violating the state’s “sexual orientation” discrimination law. New Mexico law 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 commission then ordered the photographer to pay nearly $7,000 in fines for refusing to shoot the ceremony.

Huguenin appealed the decision in December 2009, arguing that forcing her to go against her beliefs regarding homosexuality would be like forcing African Americans to photograph Klu Klux Klan members. Last June, the Mexico State Court of Appeals released a 45-page opinion upholding the guilty verdict.

The Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) then appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously in August that Huguenin must shoot homosexual weddings despite her convictions. The panel was comprised of Justices Patricia Serna, Petra Jimenez Maes, Edward Chavels, Richard Bosson and Charles Daniels.

“[W]hen 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,” the court concluded.

Justice Richard C. Bosson, who wrote a concurring opinion, had even stronger words regarding the matter. He asserted that while the Huguenins are being forced by the court to compromise the commandments of God, everyone must make concessions in life over matters that violate their conscience. He outlined that the Huguenins may freely live out their faith privately, but when it comes to running a public business, they will have to “pay the price” and check their Christian convictions at the door.

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

“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,” Bosson asserted. “In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”

ADF has now petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and affirm to the nation that businesses have the right to conduct commerce in accordance with their faith.

“The idea that free people can be ‘compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives’ as the ‘price of citizenship’ is a chilling and unprecedented attack on freedom,” said Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make it clear that no American has to abandon their constitutionally protected freedoms just to make a living. No American should be punished or put out of business simply for disagreeing with the government’s opinion on a moral issue.”

“Every artist must be free to create work that expresses what he or she believes and not be forced by the government to express opposing views,” added Legal Counsel Jim Campbell. “Should the government force an African-American photographer to take pictures of a KKK rally? A government that can force anyone to promote messages against his or her will is a government out of control.”

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  • tlgeer

    If I was a Professional Photographer I would do my job to the best of my ability. I most certainly would NOT wear some kind of protest sign. That would be harming my business.

    If I was worried about doing non-Christian weddings I would let the customer know that I was uncomfortable about doing their wedding and give them a list of companies that don’t have a problem with doing SSM weddings. If the customers decided to go with my business anyway I would act like a professional and do the job to the best of my ability. And make sure that I had a LOT of business cards on hand to hand out at the wedding.

    A private company is not the same as a religious institution and it shouldn’t be.

    • frank

      uh, so its all about the money honey, at least that is the only thing i can derive from your statement.

      Some people don’t make their career their g-d. There is G-d, then nation, then family, then career. I could do without the career. I could not do without G-d. I would rather not do the wedding, lose my job and pass out my resume than to go and photograph a satanic festival while handing out business cards to obtain more business from the satanists

  • Aussie girl

    All the photographer had to say was “sorry we are fully booked” and that would have been that.

    • Completely agree!

    • Aussie Girl is wrong. These people are relentless. They would send in a “dummy” couple asking for traditional wedding coverage and if an appointment was set they’d bust the Huguenins. ——- Charlie

  • Mavis Stucci

    Shadrach. Mesach. Abednego. Et al.

  • Deborah Johnson

    So basically the judge just said that the basic rights, as described in the Bill of Rights, only apply to personal and private lives of Christians. Refusing to conduct business with any person for any reason pertaining to violation of consciousness or Christian morals or ethics is criminal and civic irresponisibilty on the part of the Christian..

    Let us take the judge’s ruling and apply it to a hypothetical situation: I own a public relations company, and my biggest client comes to me and says: “If you want to continue to handle my account, you must have sex with me.” Now my bible says sex (consensual sex) outside of marriage is adultery, and adultery is not allowed. If I refuse, I am being discriminatory, because my reason (stated or unstated to the client) is that I believe committing adultery is wrong. But if I comply with the judges order and submit to the clients demand, then I have sinned against God.

    For the record, sexual harassment laws do not apply to this situation, as it is the client and not an employer who is making the sexual advances. Also note, if I refuse to have sex, and the client goes forward with forcing the issue; now it is rape. But according to this judge’s ruling I would not have the right to press criminal charges against the client; as I refused to comply or even conduct further business with them because of personal consciousness and belief that adultery is wrong, and my personal freedoms only apply to my private and personal life.

    I don’t believe this judge thought through the potential and logical ramifications of his ruling. For the record, I would always choose to obey God, despite this judge’s ruling.

  • bfoss

    It seems that some Christians don’t seem to understand Christ’s teachings in Matthew 22:20-22.

    Those of our brothers and sisters that so vehemently and publicly spread hate in Jesus name have truly missed His point. I pray for you, and hope that you too will pray, to see where this anger comes from in your life. You are not praising Jesus by these actions, you dishonor him. Our mission is to bring sinners to redemption, as Jesus did, not to try to score political points. Also, let us not forget John 8:7.

    From a secular POV, your arguments are ridiculous as well. The Bible clearly accepts slavery. Could I keep a slave because it is part of our religious beliefs? Silly, and you know it.

    Praise Jesus by spreading his love and bringing people to redemption. Your spewing of hate is not from Jesus’ love, but from the Devil’s hate.

    • william

      Using your understanding of the bible, I guess Jesus was spewing out hate every time he disagreed, and even scolded the Pharisees and scribes ? Christ said “if they have hated me they will hate you”
      We speak the truth in love, but it is hatred to all those who are enemies of the truth. Brothers and sisters in Christ recognize this reality, but we are not intimidated by labels put on us by FAKE Christians.

      • Jerry Reiter

        Jesus scolded the self-righteous religious folks, but hung out with sinners and turned water into wine. Some people today who claim the name Christian act more like the Pharisees and scribes than like Jesus. Christ hoped His followers would be known for how much they loved.

  • charles e. killeen

    The best of these comments complicates a simple matter. The gay couple could have gone to the YELLOW PAGES and easily solved the problem. But they’d have missed the opportunity to exert their new-found power to force a religious person to violate his beliefs. (And it isn’t anybody’s right in this discussion to decide the validity of those beliefs.) As in the case in Los Angeles some years ago where a couple singled out a doctor who was opposed to abortion and demanded he perform one for them. In Los Angeles they could have found any number of doctors who would have done the procedure without hesitation but they wanted a Catholic doctor to do it because it would violate his beliefs which they despised. Here’s an example of simple logic: One brother says, “before I start building a deck on my house or adding a room I find a book on the subject and learn all I can about it.” The other brother says, “I do better than that — I go to the YELLOW PAGES and find somebody who already knows everything about it.” I love Jesus and I love The Bible but sometimes the YELLOW PAGES is the book to go to. —————— Charlie Killeen

  • Bob

    I don’t understand how taking wedding pictures would violate Christian conscience. No one is being forced to participate in homosexual behavior. It would appear to me that a Christian approach would be to kindly offer the service above and beyond what one is being paid for. When I took ethics in Seminsry we were clearly taught the difference between the government allowing other people to do something disagreeable and being forced to commit that disagreeable act ones self. The first should be normal Christian behavior, the latter may be worthy of civil disobedience. In short no one is forcing the photographer to commit lesbian acts, so her conscience is not being violated. Instead she is taking an un-Christian bigoted stance.

  • Mary Waterton

    In the 1930’s the Nazi Government passed laws making it illegal for anyone to hide Jews and therefore illegal *NOT* to participate in their extermination. Freedom of religion was not grounds for exemption. Christians who violated the laws likewise went to the gas chambers (reference: The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Boom).

    In 2013 the American Government is passing laws making it illegal for Americans *NOT* to participate in “homosexual marriage” ceremonies. Our 1st Amendment rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of association are not grounds for exemption. Christians who violate the laws are fined into bankruptcy.

    History is repeating itself only this time it’s the Christians instead of the Jews.

    Make up your minds who you will serve … God or Government.

  • Telly

    Many gays do not know what their leaders are up to. Gay leaders intend to bisexualize society. Homosexuals may laugh at that statement, but it’s true.

    It is not just a matter of “gay marriage”. Their agenda, you see, is much bigger. Homosexual groups are in schools giving kids the message that they can love (sexually) either gender and should experiment sexually. Homosexuals tend to be sexual libertarians so it is not surprising that that is their message. Entire elementary school classes are also being told that they can be any gender they wish – that gender is only a state of mind, not physical. Schools are also bringing in frightening trans-sexual, cross-dressing people that scare kids. This is a major brainwashing effort that the average homosexual does not know about.
    The fact is that homosexual groups are victimizing young children. They say that it is not so, but it is so.
    I wish to recommend a very good pro-family website that tells it all and is based on documented fact:
    I also wish to recommend an excellent free book on the Web: The Born Gay Hoax. It is about more than being born gay. It is a total exposure of the homosexual movement, using its own words and actions. I find that even when faced with photos, videos, and printed material that expose gay propaganda, gays deny it all. They are in denial and should be ignored.

  • Dave

    Some good comments here but most are missing the issue. The bible tells us that we don’t have to be ‘Of the World’, but we can’t go out of the world. Treating a ‘Sinner’ with dignity and respect and loving our enemies are concepts the bible teaches. The court is not making this business commit any sin. If this business feels so strongly about serving a sinner, they would not even have a business. Sin is sin, plain and simple. Would this business serve a heterosexual couple who have had premarital sex or are living together before marriage? Would they be able to serve a person who has ever lied? Would they be able to serve a person who has ever stolen anything? Would they be able to serve a person addicted to pornography or an alcoholic? The logic of a lot of the comments here is simply not biblical. The principle is to ‘Let your light’ shine before men. And in a biblical sense, that means serving others out of love, even though you know they are sinning. Don’t get the wrong idea that I’m condoning sin, but if we as Christians don’t serve sinners, there is no love and we become nothing more than hypocrites.

    • Tammie

      Amen Dave! My point exactly! You summed it up perfectly brother!!

  • Tony

    So Churches must now perform SSM even if it is against their beliefs?

    Doctors must do abortions?

    Just because you run a business you do not forfit your 1st Admendment rights.

    BTW, the couple in question did find another photographer who took their pictures. The court did not find any damages for the couple only legal fees.

  • M. Saeger

    Tony, thank you for the update.

  • Jonclyde

    I wonder who is really behind this court case.

  • Nearly all these comments are off the point. The point is that this couple knew very well they could easily have found a photographer to do the job. But they wanted a shooter who was opposed to what they were doing. The satisfaction of forcing someone to go against his/her beliefs plus making a little money out of it was the objective. That’s the point. ——– Charlie Killeen (Whether the photographers’ beliefs are valid or invalid is irrelevant.)

  • Sunny weather

    It’s the photographer’s fault for not choosing her words carefully and it’s the gay couples fault for being so offended.
    This stuff makes great ratings on TV.

  • Patrick

    As a business owner, she was required to adhere to her state’s nondiscrimination laws, which also protect religious beliefs. If a gay person refused to photograph a Christian wedding, that photographer would be in the wrong as well.