Conservative Christians have constitutional rights, too. But not in New Mexico.
A truly appalling, if unanimous, decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled it is illegal for a Taos event photographer to refuse on religious grounds to shoot the commitment ceremony of a same-sex couple.
Elaine Huguenin and her husband, Jonathan, argued they had a free speech and religious right not to shoot the ceremony, which conflicted with their fundamental religious tenets. As the Wall Street Journal‘s Law Blog notes,
The case dates back to 2006 when Vanessa Willock asked the Huguenins to photograph a commitment ceremony that she and her partner were planning to hold in the town of Taos. After getting turned down, the couple accused the company of discrimination in a complaint to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.
An amicus brief filed on behalf of the Huguenins by the Cato Institute, Prof. Dale Carpenter and Prof. Eugene Volokh had argued that constitutional protections for free speech apply to creative endeavors such as photography, and that:
the taking of wedding photographs, like the writing of a press release or the creation of a dramatic or musical performance, involves many hours of effort and a large range of expressive decisions.
Therefore, requiring a commercial photographer to provide services is different from requiring other services be provided on a nondiscriminatory basis. But to no avail. In New Mexico and increasingly elsewhere, once progressives are empowered, anyone can and will be ordered to dance to their tune.
Back in 2008, I noted of this case:
Aside from the legal merits of violating [Elaine] Huguenin’s liberty, just what do the offended lesbians who brought this action hope to accomplish by forcing Huguenin to work for them? It’s the kind of totalitarian-leaning nastiness in the name of the self-righteous promotion of “equality” that would make Robespierre proud.
I again discussed this case last September, noting George Will’s observation that Vanessa Willock, the lesbian bringing the suit,
could then have said regarding Elane Photography what many same-sex couples have long hoped a tolerant society would say regarding them—“live and let live.” Willock could have hired a photographer with no objections to such events. Instead, Willock and her partner set out to break the Huguenins to the state’s saddle.
I’d now put it this way: Why a gay couple would want to force a photographer to cover their ceremony against his or her will can be explained in one word: animus. Now the bigots will pay!
And thus does a just cause for expanding liberty fall prey to the nasty zealots of forced coercion, smugly congratulating themselves on their triumph.
More. The AP (via NPR’s website) on the “Divide Over Religious Exemptions on Gay Marriage.” Jonathan Rauch is quoted on why moderation should prevail.
Furthermore. I think this comment gets it right. For all those declaring the supremacy of the state over an individual’s religious convictions, and its authority to force behavior that violates religious convictions, shame on you.
And worth repeating. From The Communist Roots of Russian Homophobia:
While it is among the most evil manifestations, Russia’s homophobia is just one symptom of its collectivist and tyrannous history. It acts as a reminder that tolerance does not require secularity so much as a free society where all individuals, regardless of their religion, political beliefs, gender identity or sexual orientation, are allowed to live their lives in peace without state interference.
How many of the LGBT progressives who are (rightly) condemning Putin’s tactics in Russia support, here at home, using the iron fist of the state to force Americans to engage in conduct that violates their religious beliefs?