The Corner

NM Supreme Court Finds Refusing to Photograph Gay Wedding Illegal

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that, by refusing to photograph a gay wedding, a photography studio violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA).

The court found that Elane Photography’s refusal to serve Vanessa Willock violated the act, which “prohibits a public accommodation from refusing to offer its services to a person based on that person’s sexual orientation,” according to the ruling.

Justice Richard C. Bosson, writing in concurrence, said that the case “provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice.” In addition, the 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.”

The owners of Elane Photography, Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin, “are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish” Bosson wrote. Nevertheless, in the “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.”

Doing so, Bosson said, is “the price of citizenship.”

The ruling affirms a grant of summary judgment for Willock against Elane Photography by New Mexico’s Second Judicial District Court and holds that Elane Photography’s free speech rights were not violated. The case was first decided by the New Mexico Human Rights Council, which ordered Elane Photography to pay Willock $6,637.94 in attorneys fees and costs. Elane Photography appealed to the Second Judicial District Court based on the court’s original and appellate jurisdiction.

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