GERALD J. RUSSELLO ncregister.com The collision between religious freedom and the demands of equality continues, this time in New Mexico. In Elane Photography v. Willock, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Aug. 22 that Elane could not refuse to photograph a same-sex wedding. Since Elane was a business that provided photography services to the general public, it could not, under New Mexico’s Human Rights Act, refuse to provide such services to any of the classes of persons protected under that law. The court recognized the gravity of its decision; in a “special concurrence,” Justice Richard Bosson wrote, “[t]hough the rule of law requires [ruling against Elane], the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins [Elane’s owners] and others of similar views.” Indeed it will, but it did not have to be this way, as some of the participants in the case, such as the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, have pointed out. Instead, the decision leaves religious businesses open to continued attack, precisely because they are attempting to live out their religious beliefs. New Mexico, like many states, has a law banning discrimination against people based on certain specific characteristics, such as race, religion or sexual orientation, by all businesses that provide services to the public. The Huguenins were contacted by email from a same-sex couple who wanted Elane to photograph a commitment ceremony. The Huguenins, because of their religious beliefs, objected. Even though the couple was able to find a photographer in time for their ceremony, they still complained to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, which found that Elane had violated the Hman Rights Act. The case then proceeded through the courts. The Supreme Court found that the Huguenins simply did not have a religious-liberty claim; no one was making them say something contrary to their religious beliefs, and, as a public business, the court found no one would believe the Huguenins endorsed same-sex marriage simply by being hired to photograph one. to read more click here: ncregister.com
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