As marriage equality continues to slowly but surely flourish across the nation, it still faces opposition and the dragging of feet from ultra-religious social conservatives who don’t support the “redefinition” of marriage and those who simply don’t like it for one reason or another.
Recently, businesses refused to cater to same-sex couples seeking their services and have been called to court for their supposed injustice.
One occurrence happened in New Mexico where, although same-sex marriage was not yet legal at the time, the New Mexico Human Rights Act prevented discrimination of services to same-sex couples. The New Mexico Supreme Court compared it to rejecting an interracial couple.
Photography company Elane Photography, hailing from Albuquerque, N. M., refused to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony, stating that it was against its religious views to do so. The photographer refused because the couple was same-sex, which led to the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that she had violated NMHRA and telling her she had to either accept same-sex business or close down her shop and begin running it from home.
Elaine Huguenin, the offending photographer, thoroughly disagrees. Because she had refused on religious terms, she said she believes that this application of NMHRA violates her business’s free speech and free exercise rights under the First Amendment.
In a state where same-sex marriage was not yet legal, these laws to regulate businesses to cater to same-sex couples seem absurd. However, requiring the business to go against its religious beliefs would be a violation of the First Amendment.
Typical with cases dealing with marriage equality, you can see where both sides are coming from when presenting their arguments, even if one side is more agreeable.
What it comes down to, though, is that Elane Photography is a small art-based business. Yes, she did refuse to take pictures of the couple’s commitment ceremony. However, she did not entirely refuse them business — offering to instead take portraits. As an artist, she is able to accept and refuse any type of work she wants. That’s her prerogative.
That being said, her same-sex wedding photography refusals may be a poor business tactic. Huguenin has effectively lost business from those who support marriage equality, those participating in same-sex marriage as well as their family members and close friends. Her business will now be attractive to the far right, religious extremists and the friends she was able to keep despite her religious convictions.
Being able to essentially say whatever we want is part of being American. Refusing to take wedding pictures of a same-sex couple based on religious views is Elaine Huguenin’s choice, and one that is rightfully protected by the First Amendment.
Overall, it’s important to remember that as a small business, Elane Photography has many competitors. This means that we as consumers have plenty of choices of who to patronize. As it stands, marriage equality is never going to be supported by all people, but that doesn’t mean that we have to support their endeavors, either.
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