For businesses that stand behind their Christian beliefs doing business can be difficult. According to the state of New Mexico such businesses can face hefty fines. “Despite their personal religious beliefs a business must accept the reasonable regulations and restrictions imposed upon the conduct of their commercial enterprise.
This comes from a ruling from the New Mexico Court of Appeals that says states can require Christians to violate their faith in order to do business, affirming a penalty. In this case Judge Tim L. Garcia along with Judge’s Cynthia Fry and James Wechsler who joined in the ruling involved a business named Elane Photography, whose owners, Elaine and Jonathan Huegeunin, are Christians and declined to do photography for the lesbian couples actual “commitment ” ceremony.
The women complained under the state’s anti-discrimination requirements and a state commission, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, imposed the penalty, which now has been affirmed by the appeals court judges. The judges explained in the 45-page ruling that the photography company is a “public accommodation” and those cannot discriminate under state law based on “sexual orientation.”
“The owners of Elane Photography must accept the reasonable regulations and restrictions imposed upon the conduct of their commercial enterprise despite their personal religious beliefs that may conflict with these governmental interests,” the judges wrote.
Officials with the Alliance Defense Fund, which has been representing Elane, said there would be an appeal.
“Americans in the marketplace should not be subjected to legal attacks for simply abiding by their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “Should the government force a video grapher who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy? Of course not, and neither should the government force this photographer to promote a message that violates her conscience. Because the Constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling artists to promote a message they disagree with, we will certainly appeal this decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court.”
As reported by WND News..
It started in 2006 when Willock asked Elaine Huguenin to take pictures at her “commitment” ceremony. It was in 2009 when the ADF appealed a trial judge’s ruling in favor of the lesbians.
In reaching their decision the judges aligned photography with those that are “an essential service” under state law.
“Services, facilities and accommodations are available to the general public through a variety of resources. Elane Photography takes advantage of these available resources to market to the public at large and invite them to solicit services offered by its photography business,” the judges explained.
They cited the idea of a KKK rally asking an black photographer to supply his work, and the photographer refusing. Could then the KKK cite racial discrimination?
“The Ku Klux Klan is not a protected class,” opined the judges. “Sexual orientation, however, is protected.”
The judges continued, “The act of photographing a same-sex ceremony does not express any opinions regarding same-sex commitments, or disseminate a personal message about such ceremonies.”
They called the state requirement “a neutral regulation of commercial conduct” and said that it does not “infringe upon freedom of speech or compel unwanted expression.”
The judges wrote that the photography company’s claim of protection under the state constitution’s requirement that “no person shall ever be molested or denied any civil or political right or privilege on account of his religious opinion” was not applicable.
The judges suggested the interesting scenario of the photographer accepting the job, and vocally condemning the women while taking pictures.
“The owners are free to express their religious beliefs and tell Willock or anyone else what they think about same-sex relationships and same-sex ceremonies,” they said.
The district court decision had come from Alan M. Malott.
Malott’s ruling said the Christian owners were compelled to photograph the ceremony for Vanessa Willock and Misty Pascottini because of the state’s interest in preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“Once one offers a service publicly, they must do so without impermissible exception,” the judge wrote. “Therefore, plaintiff could refuse to photograph animals or even small children, just as an architect could design only commercial buildings and not private residences. Neither animals, nor small children, nor private residences are protected classes,” he wrote. Source
When did a private company become a “public accommodation”? This case has nothing to do with the issue of homosexuality. Business may be done in public, but the contracts are private. Whatever happened to the time-honored sign “We reserve the right to deny service to anyone”? And most importantly what happened to the First Amendment which states…CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS; OR THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE PEACEABLY TO ASSEMBLE, AND TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES.
Are not the Christian owners the ones being discriminated against for following the teaching of their religion?