The answer seems no, at least in the case of Thursday’s New Mexico Supreme Court ruling.
I agree with John that the concurring opinion from Justice Richard C. Bosson is not one to gloss over. He was clear about where we are today.
The Huguenins, who run Elane Photography, have no right to choose not to take on a same-sex wedding, according to the court. Bosson writes: “The Huguenins . . . now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.”
He reflects that “this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice.” It sure does. But then he goes on to conclude that “this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less.” And here is the future of religious liberty, my friends, if we sign up for Justice Bosson’s extrajudicial schooling: “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.”
In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. 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. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship. I therefore concur.
Jim Campbell, legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund agrees that “the stakes of this case are high — at issue is the freedom of Americans to live and do business consistent with their religious convictions.”
He takes a few questions from National Review Online:
KJL: Does the court have a point? Societal values are changing, it would seem, sometimes by mandate. Does a photographer, as a citizen, have to give in?
Jim Campbell: 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.
KJL: Does this photographer have further recourse?
CAMPBELL: Elane Photography can file a cert petition with the United States Supreme Court.
KJL: Is this binding anywhere else?
CAMPBELL: The decision is not binding outside of New Mexico.
KJL: Are there other cases like it?
CAMPBELL: A florist in Washington has been sued for declining to create floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding ceremony. A family-operated inn in Vermont was sued for supposedly declining to host a same-sex wedding reception on its premises. Cake makers in Oregon and Colorado have been sued for declining to create cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies. A promotional printer in Kentucky has been sued for declining to print shirts for a local gay-pride festival.
KJL: What’s the future of religious liberty with rulings like this one being decided?
CAMPBELL: Stay tuned.
KJL: Is it too late for religious liberty as we knew it? Is America not a place for photographers who don’t want to photograph same-sex weddings? For ministers and churches that can’t in good conscience?
CAMPBELL: The Constitution ensures that the government cannot intrude on the liberties of their citizens. This liberty includes the right of business owners to participate in the marketplace without the government forcing them to use their artistic expression to communicate messages that conflict with their beliefs.